I’m a Type-A kind of guy, but am slowly learning that staying cool and calm is a better way to interact with my hyper dogs. I’m doing my best to anticipate stress-inducers, heading them off before they impact my dogs’ behavior, by maintaining my own cool head and actions.
My older dog Buddy is a mirror of my emotional state – so responsive to my internal machinations, you’d think we were linked telepathically. When he is nervous or tentative I know it’s probably something I’m doing. Conversely, he has shown me how to help stay positive, avoid these issues and get back to hunting or training … with distraction and diversion. Translation: dial down the energy level.
It can sometimes be as simple as breaking his train of thought. Calling his name, a hand clap, hitting the locator beeper, or offering a food treat might solve your immediate problem. Other times, you’re going to have to get out of your recliner.
Leaving the house can lead to separation anxiety. That in turn can lead to new curtain purchases, expensive carpet cleaning bills and long explanations to the sheriff’s deputy when the neighbors complain about incessant barking. If your dog really suffers, you’ll want professional advice. But in the short term, ask someone to help by training or playing with your dog as you’re heading out the door. I try to keep things low key when departing and returning, even sneaking away if necessary.
Even when you’re home, barking can drive you and your neighbors nuts. Why not shift the dynamic, distract your hunting partner with something more productive? A retrieving session shifts his mental state to a more constructive mode, as might a few obedience drills.
At our house, it’s deer – we have a bunch living behind the place. At your house, it might be other dogs, the mail carrier or passing cars … all can be a source of interest – and anxiety.
Whether it’s a porcupine or a rival stud, you’re better off being proactive with something more engaging than having to break up a confrontation. Have a go-to strategy and keep it handy: a retrieving bumper by the front door, or a command for something he’ll drop everything to do. I like “dinner time!”
Unless you’ve got the perfect dog, you and he can both use a little more training. Using it as a diversion from bad behavior is like hitting two birds with one shot.
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