(An online consultation).
A friend said this and it’s so true:
‘If we don’t like the output, we change the input’!
Beautiful Beau is a clever mix of Beagle and Border Collie, an adolescent at ten months old. He lives with a couple and their five-year-old twins who are very good around Beau.
Because of Beau’s excitement, he spends much of the time in the kitchen while the rest of the family will be in the living room.
They had hoped by the time he reached to ten months that he would be integrated with the family in the evenings when they sit down quietly before and after the twins go to bed.
But no, integration isn’t possible.
In the evening, only when the twins have gone to bed, is he allowed in with them.
To avoid the manic charging around, grabbing clothes, jumping about and nipping, they feed him big edible chews to keep him quiet.
As soon as he’s finished the manic behaviour begins.
He grows increasingly rough and wild – not aggressive, but simply so excitable he can’t control himself – until they have to get him back into the kitchen.
Going back to my friend’s quote: ‘If we don’t like the output, we change the input’……
What is the input?
Over-exciting hands-on play and chasing, Bakers dog food, commercial chews full of rubbish and preservatives, over-excited greetings, being fussed whilst jumping up….
In the morning Beau wakes up gentle and affectionate. His stress and excitement gradually builds up during the day and, just like with many puppies and young dogs, it peaks in the evening.
Changing the input.
They will engage in less exciting hands-on human-generated play, and give him more dog-generated chewing/hunting/sniffing activities to help diffuse excitement.
He will now work to get his food out of Kongs or hunt for it in the grass. He will use his brain.
Food is fuel. Better food and chews without the e-numbers and rubbish will change his output in terms of behaviour.
They will work on motivation and reward. Currently he won’t come when called, so has to be manhandled out of the room – which only adds to his arousal.
Integrating the family
Now they will start letting him into the living room before the twins go to bed.
To start with, ten minutes before the twins go to bed they can give him his tea in Kong in the living room. The twins can go up to bed before he’s finished.
They will then call Beau back into the kitchen for a (healthy) chew which he can then take back into the living room. Going into the kitchen must be rewarding.
Bit by bit, with non-consumable chews and marrow bones (not rubbish rawhide, chemicals preservatives etc. which can only add to his heightened state), the time in the living room with the twins can increase.
Now, with different input, after finishing chewing he is much more likely to relax. His brain has been worked. He has worked for food. He has chewed. He’s not been wound up.
No more dragging a resistant dog into the kitchen.
If he still begins to get too excited later, dragging a resistant dog into the kitchen by his collar will change. They will keep a lead on him for now. At first signs of arousal and before he goes manic, they will pick up the lead and lead him kindly into the kitchen.
Once there, they won’t just leave him in his high, manic state – they will give him an activity to unwind on.
I believe that after sufficient days of ‘changed input’, the manic evening ‘output’ will become a thing of the past.
The family will be integrated with Beau.