Nervous or Friendly Exuberance?

Published by Theo Stewart on

Nervous excitement

Labrador hiding under a chair when the harness came out

Daisy

Could she be nervous?

Because a dog jumps all over you when you arrive, grabs and mouths you and excitedly runs around panting and carrying toys, I don’t believe it is necessarily simply a display of friendliness.

Pale Labrador Daisy was certainly not unfriendly, but all this hyperactivity when I arrived spelt something different to me.[divider type=”white”]

Nervous excitement

I liken dogs like this to the sort of person who opens the door to a guest and then is all over them, kissing them, welcoming them, forcing drink and food onto them, fussing around, talking non-stop and never leaving them alone.

A human doing this would be in a highly anxious or nervous state – certainly not relaxed and simply happy to see her guest.

The reason I was called is that Daisy is erratic with other dogs when out – but not all dogs thankfully. She is fine with some and not with others. I could see that she was also quite highly strung at home.

When I arrived the excitement carried on for about twenty minutes until she lay down and panted for a while before settling.

Daisy lives with 13-year -old Weimaraner Suzy (looking like a queen on her chair!). Suzy is doing brilliantly for her age, but as a younger dog was apparently even more hyped up than Daisy.[divider type=”white”]

Worried before walks

Suzy

I am a believer in a dog being as comfortable as possible when out walking and encountering other dogs, using equipment that also gives the owner maximum confidence. An anxious or nervous dog will immediately pick up on anxiety in her human.

We looked at Daisy’s stiff and rather uncomfortable harness and then I showed the kind I prefer. As soon as the harnesses came out Daisy was looking away, obviously very nervous. She went and hid under a chair.

This is how she is before walks. Worried.

There is a lot of general stuff to be done at home to do to give Daisy maximum faith in her owners and to boost her confidence. At the moment both dogs get everything they ask for in terms of attention on demand, whilst not necessarily cooperating when demands are made upon them.

Nervous Daisy will be happier and more confident with a reward-based relationship where she is happy working with humans who make firm decisions, who don’t give in to her all the time and who help to make her feel safe when out.

It will then be their decision whether or not she should engage with a certain dog and not hers.[divider type=”white”]

Training commands doesn’t always help

Daisy has been to training classes and knows a lot of commands. Some things take more than just training. They take respect and willingness too, so in a way it’s the humans that need to learn.

Things like the mouthing and jumping up have been unwittingly reinforced. If telling her to ‘get down’ or to ‘stop’ happened to work, she would no longer be doing these things after two years.[divider type=”white”]

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help.
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