I had a great question from one of our Home Dog Training clients in Hoschton yesterday. Shadow, their two year old Labrador Retriever was mostly a great dog. He knew most of his commands and was pretty well behaved. They knew that he was high energy and the family would play with him in the back yard every day. The problem arose when they were ready to come inside. Once they were all back in the house, Shadow would just keep jumping and wanting to play. It was difficult for them to get his attention and easily calm him down. This crazy behavior mostly happened just after they had finished playing outside. They thought that he would be all tuckered out after the fetching, running, and jumping outside, but that wasn’t the case. They knew that they had to have that outside excited play time, but didn’t know how to turn it off when they came inside.
To effectively answer this question, we need to step back and understand some of the natural mechanics of how dogs play while still understanding their place in the group. Playing is a time where all the participants, leaders and followers, leave their social positions behind to engage in some sort of active engagement. Everyone is on the same level and the rules are the same for all participants. Once the play is over, it is important that everyone returns to their previous social structure so that “life can continue”.
The problem my client was facing was that he wasn’t providing the appropriate “break” between play and “real life”. In order to accomplish this, he needs to be sure that he can end the play on his terms and get Shadow’s complete attention. This will allow my client to return to his “guide and teach” role as the leader and Shadow’s “focus and learn” role as the follower.
Here is what I suggested to my client:
- When it is ready for play time with Shadow, take him to the back door and have him sit. Step outside while Shadow is still sitting calmly inside.
- Invite the Labrador outside and have him sit again. Make sure that he is calmly focused on you. When this is the case, release Shadow and let him run off into the yard.
- Play strenuous games with Shadow that involve his running, jumping, and searching. These games could be fetch, find the goodie, catch, etc. Keep this up at a pretty fast pace for about ten minutes.
- Find a nice chair in the shade and call Shadow over. Have some water and a “quiet time” toy (Kong with peanut butter or a deer antler) next to the chair. Calmly sit down and direct Shadow to sit or lie down.
- Calmly sit together (petting him and talking is suggested) for about five minutes just to let the adrenaline drain and for him to catch his breath.
- Stand up and perform one or two obedience commands. These could be such things as “Sit”, “Stay”, or “Come”.
- Sit quietly for another minute and then reengage in active play for another ten or fifteen minutes.
- Repeat the “quiet time” as you did earlier.
- Stand up and perform several obedience commands. After that, click the leash on Shadow and calmly walk him back to the back door.
- Have Shadow sit as you step inside. Now invite him inside and have him sit. Praise him and drop the leash.
- Slowly walk away.
What my client has done is to manage and compartmentalize the play with his position as Shadow’s boss. The excited play was broken up with a calm time where Shadow could drain the adrenaline built up through the excited play. Once Shadow’s adrenaline was drained, my client could easily regain Shadow’s respectful attention on his terms. The obedience commands help to reinforce my client’s leadership role over Shadow. Returning back to the house in a calm and focused manner simply reinforced the “playtime is over” mode for Shadow.
Building a great relationship with your dog requires love, involvement, and commitment. The path can be a fun and rewarding experience for the entire family.
We encourage you to contact us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training tips at Best Dog Trainers Hoschton Georgia. Locate all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Hoschton Georgia.