When Greetings are Too Exuberant

Liz Palika
Excessive Dog GreetingsWalter greeting his owner with a toy.

Does your dog go crazy when you come home? Does he jump, spin in circles, and bark? If he does, he’s one of many. After all, most dogs would be happiest if they and their owners could be together all the time.

Unfortunately, a dog going crazy also isn’t thinking, and he could end up ruining your clothes and scratching you when he jumps on you. He could cause you to drop anything in your hands and his barking could annoy neighbors. Plus, his wild behavior in the house could damage your belongings. It’s easy to see why he’s acting out – when you come home he’s excited – yet his behavior is also annoying.

What Not to Do

The last thing your dog needs in situations like this is more excitement, so it’s important that you remain calm. Don’t yell at your dog, “Got off of me! Quiet! Shut up!” Your dog is happy to see you. Yelling or screaming will make him even more frantic.

For the same reason, don’t grab him by the collar and yank him around or shake him. As with the yelling, this will be counter-productive and won’t teach your dog anything, except perhaps that your behavior is unpredictable.

Teach a Pro-Active Behavior

Instead of yelling, grabbing at your dog, and trying to get him to calm down – which doesn’t help anything - teach him to do something else instead. For example, I teach my dogs to get a toy. When they are excited, I want them to run to the doggy toy box and grab a toy – any toy of their choice - and then hold on to it as they come back to me. I then praise the dog. A disruptive situation then turns into a much better one because the dog with the toy is thinking and, as a result, is calmer. And, of course, he’s then rewarded for that behavior.

It’s easy enough to teach your dog to get a toy. Choose one that he plays with frequently. Toss the toy just a couple of feet away and tell him, “Sweetie, get your toy!” When he gets it, praise him enthusiastically. After a few play (training) sessions, then when he gets the toy, ask him to bring it to you and again, reward him. Be his cheerleader for this and make it exciting.

When he’s getting the toy and bringing it to you, start asking him to get it from the toy box. Depending on your dog, he may understand this right away or he might need some help. If he needs help, stand close to the toy box and drop his toy into it and then ask him to get it. Over several play (training) sessions, drop the toy in the box and send him to get the toy from various places in the room, then, later, in the rest of the house.

When your dog is getting his toy when you ask him to from a variety of places in the house, then send your dog for the toy as you walk in the door.

Some dogs pick this training up quickly, while others may need more practice. Don’t give up though, as you’ll love it when your dog understands. Eventually he’ll run to grab his toy before you even come in the door; he’ll hear you coming, grab a toy, and meet you at the door with the toy in his mouth. Give him a jackpot (huge) reward for that!

More You Can Do

Remember to keep leave takings quiet and calm. If you make a big deal out of leaving, you’ll increase your dog’s stress levels as you leave. He’ll be more apt to act out destructively while you’re gone and will certainly be more excited when you come home.

Homecomings should also be calm. After all, this is a normal activity and there’s no need for excitement. Be happy to see your dog and praise him (especially if he has a toy in his mouth), but, otherwise, be matter of fact.

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