The Good Dog Advice Column is a new series intended to help dog owners in our community resolve their pup's behavioral problems. For the column, community members submit their canine questions related to behavior, training, and obedience to the York County SPCA's affiliate dog trainers, Deb Byloff and Cathy Hivner. Deb and Cathy have been training dogs for two decades and have partnered with the York County SPCA for the last 15 years to help our community better understand their dogs. Ultimately, these expert dog whisperers are giving people the opportunity to build stronger bonds with their canine companions.
Read on to hear about Nyxie, a spring-loaded lady who just can't control her excitement.
I have a 2-year-old American Pit Bull terrier named Nyxie. She is very high energy. When any of our family members come home or a guest is at our house, she gets very excited. Her legs turn into springs. She can jump and lick the face of a person as tall as 6ft. She just jumps and jumps. We have tried to tell her no down or to sit repeatedly and have not been able to break her of this habit. It’s as if she is so excited she hears nothing around her or pays any attention to the commands we are trying to give her. Do you have any advice on how we can stop this behavior? Thank you.
The first thing we need to determine is what Nyxie eats. If her food has sugar, it will only exasperate the problem. Whole Dog Journal has a list of foods they researched that are made in the USA and include ingredients that are healthy for dogs. It is also important for Nyxie to have exercise.
The second thing to address is if Nyxie had any training so she knows what is expected of her when people come to the house. Nyxie needs to understand her role. Part of training should be to have her on a leash (with the leash held) and have treats in your hand. Her training should start when there are no people or distractions to rev her up. She should be rewarded for being calm and not jumping up on you or your family. I would use a clicker to reward her when all 4 feet are on the floor. We have a video of using a clicker to teach a dog to not jump up on the York County SPCA web site. The word I use for this is ‘off’. To introduce the clicker to Nyxie, have her on a leash with treats in your hand and say her name. When she looks at you, click and give her a treat. Usually dogs relate the click to a treat in a few minutes.
Once Nyxie knows ‘off’ in a calm situation, you can gradually introduce distractions. Teaching ‘off’ is one of the easier things to teach and usually is learned in a week or two. Using a clicker and rewarding the dog when it is correct in a positive way helps the dog learn quickly because the click marks an exact point in time when the dog is correct.
Q&As from The Good Dog Advice Column may be published on our blog or print newsletter. If you have a question to submit to the column, please send it to email@example.com.