Over-Stimulated. How Can Terrier Gain Self-Control?

Over-stimulated Parsons Terrier uncharacteristically calm Who could fail to love Riley! He can be rather too much though! He’s a one year old Parsons Russell Terrier; he flies all over people and is extremely excitable.

Stimulating an already over-stiimulated dog like this with even more exercise and play can backfire. It all depends upon the quality of the exercise and play.

Out running in fields, doing his own thing, sniffing, chasing and playing with other dogs until he’s really tired is perfect – or would be if his recall was good enough. Pulling down the road on lead, straining to jump up at all the people he passes and panting to go and play with other dogs while he chokes himself must be very frustrating for him. It will have the reverse effect to a healthy, tiring walk.

It’s the same with play. Rough house, rolling around, chasing and getting him wild is going to make an already over-stimulated dog far worse.

How to calm down an over-stimulated dog?

Thinking games, impulse-control games, ‘come when called’ games and hunting games are what he needs.

He is super-excited before going out, he’s excited before meals and he’s very excited when they come home or when anyone comes to the house. All this excitement is, unwittingly, encouraged and fed into by his humans because it always results in what he wants. It needs to be controlled behaviour that gets the results he wants.

The problem that bothers the young couple the most is his uncontrollable behaviour when friends and family come to the house. This is an issue not to be addressed head-on alone. He first needs to learn to control his urge to fly all over his own people when they sit down, and not to launch himself at them when they arrive home.

They can teach him this with lots of short comings and goings, welcoming him calmly only when his feet are on the floor. If ‘Get Down’ worked, he wouldn’t be doing it any more!

Not all doggy daycare is good.

They have just discovered that at the doggy daycare Riley has been tied to a post with a head halter. From the photo I assume it was to keep him under control. On the last day the minder also talked of sedating him and he came back with a cut on his face, from forcing his way out of a crate. If daycare couldn’t cope with him (and I wouldn’t blame them for that at all) they should have said. He won’t be going back there.

Firstly these ‘trigger’ occasions need to become less exciting, and only his humans can do anything about that. It’s unwittingly mostly due to them that he is so over-stimulated. He needs to find quiet behaviour and feet on the floor a lot more rewarding. Finally and most importantly, he needs to learn some alternative behaviour that is incompatible with what he currently does in order to redirect his inner eagerness. It will take a while.

He’s such a lovely, friendly and sociable little dog, and it will be good when at last they can freely have him in the room with them when their friends and their children, or family and baby neice, come to the house.

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