Extreme Excitement. Teaching her how to control herself
Extreme excitement drives all 6-month-old Golden Retriever Ellie’s unwanted behaviours.
She jumps up on the young children and the couple worry that she will cause an accident.
She goes crazy with excitement when she sees even a distant person or dog out on a walk. Her recall is good until……!
When mother who is in their bubble visits, Ellie jumps up in extreme excitement.
Symptoms of excitement
All these things are symptoms of her excitement. It therefore stands to reason that it’s excitement that needs working on.
They have been turning away when she jumps up and then reinforcing feet back on the floor with ‘Yes’ and sometimes food.
Not reinforcing jumping up by ignoring her is however only part of the picture. She has probably worked it out by now that jumping up first will end up earning food when her feet are on the floor!
Capture the behaviour they DO want
They need a way to capture that moment before she jumps up or when she does anything else that is calmer around people, like sitting. The way they can do that is with a clicker.
The food reward that always follow the click should be placed or dropped on the floor, the placement encouraging ‘down’ and not jumping up. I taught the lady how to do this.
Meanwhile, further rehearsal should be prevented using management.
The lady will put Ellie’s harness on at the start of the day and attach a house lead which the dog can trail. She can then physically prevent her from jumping up at the children in particular with no commands or nagging. The couple can also do the same with each other – and the visiting mother.
Calm and occupied
They have a pen for Ellie in the kitchen where she can spend more time when the lady is too busy. They can make this time beneficial by feeding her there in frozen Kongs and giving her other calming things to chew.
They will have organised and controlled set-up sessions around the children.
Any brief moment of standing still should be captured. Gradually as her excitement reduces they can shape this so that she is sitting down – and then later sitting for a few seconds.
All the time no commands – Ellie will work it out for herself. Brainwork is calming.
More sniffing and less heelwork will mean less frustration. Less frustration should mean less of the excitement that causes her to break out into manic pulling and jumping up.
I taught them a special pattern game to help keep Ellie focussed.