Help with our naughty dog
October 25, 2010 12:11 PM   Subscribe

So this is a typical example of what my dog does when I arrive at home. He is 5 years old and has always been this way. Help us get him under control.

We have tried ignoring him, squirting him with a water bottle, intimidating him, and crating him. When I come home he FREAKS out. Spinning, shrieking, jumping, biting, running... Currently I am using the ignore method. You can see how well it works.

Data point: If I am home already when hubby arrives home, dog goes slightly crazy. If I am not home when hubby arrives home, dog does not go crazy. Just greets him at the door with a bit of a tail wag.
posted by morganannie to Pets & Animals (31 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, I'm sorry - I should mention his bark is quite shrill on the youtube video!
posted by morganannie at 12:12 PM on October 25, 2010


Do you, by any chance, feed him soon after arriving home?
posted by jon1270 at 12:19 PM on October 25, 2010


1. Dude, you are the dog's person. He's delighted you're home. Dogs can't really contain that, although probably you can train him out of the barking if you're consistant at all times about it. That's probably a bigger issue than just greeting time though.

2. You do not appear to be following up on ignoring. By 42 seconds the dog is sitting perfectly and silently and you are still ignoring him. Make with the priase and the treats as soon as his ass hits the floor.

3. The term spaz makes me sad :(
posted by DarlingBri at 12:20 PM on October 25, 2010 [12 favorites]


Do you, by any chance, feed him soon after arriving home?

Yes, sometimes just to shut him up. :(

3. The term spaz makes me sad :(

I'm sorry. I regret offending you.
posted by morganannie at 12:23 PM on October 25, 2010


Is he crated while you're gone? How long are you gone? Is it the same whether you're gone for hours/all-day, or ten minutes? Does he need anything immediately, like a trip outside, or food or water?

Our new dog (she's 4-5 years old, but we just adopted her) is not dissimilar. We crate her and leave her for 6-7 hours, so of course she's excited when we come home. She doesn't get let out of her crate until she's calmed down at least slightly.

We got a webcam so we can watch her during the day. She sleeps for most of it, but has barking streaks occasionally, increasing in duration/frequency as the day wears on. How is your dog while you're gone? If he's this excited when you return, I'm guessing he misses you during the day... loudly. Do you have any way of checking how noisy or quiet he is while he's alone?

Advice: extend the period/intensity of ignoring. Do whatever you need to do when you get home. Take ten or fifteen minutes if needed. If he jumps on your lap, push him off. Don't engage at all. If he needs to go out immediately, open the door, let him out, but ignore totally. No eye contact, no reprimanding.
posted by supercres at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2010


supercres - he is not crated. We have used iCam to watch him and he mostly sleeps. Barks a little. Walks around once or twice. The longest he is alone is 8 hours but that is only 1-2 days per week. Usually it's around 5-7.

We used to crate him but he freaked out just as much (if not more) when we released him from the crate.

I have to put him on a lead to let him outside. To do this I have to fasten something to his collar. It's impossible! He spins, nips, barks, jumps. I cannot attach the thing and continue ignoring him.
posted by morganannie at 12:27 PM on October 25, 2010



Do you, by any chance, feed him soon after arriving home?

Yes, sometimes just to shut him up. :(


That's probably contributing to, if not outright causing, the behavior. I notice he's running in circles a lot. Is that a trick someone trained him, perhaps rewarded with treats?

We have a beagle that behaves similarly when my wife gets home. When I get home, he barely even raises his head. My wife, however, is in the habit of dispensing dog dinner within moments of her arrival, so when her car arrives in the driveway our very food-motivated dog immediately starts bouncing off the walls. You can almost see the thought bubble saying DinnerDinnerDinnerDinnerNowNowNowNowPleasePleasePleasePleasePlease!!!
posted by jon1270 at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2010


That dog loves you with its whole hearth! Do you greet the dog when you open the door? Maybe some petting and a lot of "good dog" when it parks its behind on the floor will work.
posted by francesca too at 12:32 PM on October 25, 2010


You do not appear to be following up on ignoring. By 42 seconds the dog is sitting perfectly and silently and you are still ignoring him. Make with the priase and the treats as soon as his ass hits the floor.

This this this this this.

An alternative version of the same training: if you walk in the door and he starts freaking out, leave. Wait right outside until you hear him calm down, then come back in. Repeat until he remains calm when you enter, and reward reward reward.

I know the last thing you want to do when you get home from work is train your dog, but it's absolutely necessary.
posted by muddgirl at 12:34 PM on October 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


Is that a trick someone trained him, perhaps rewarded with treats?

Yes. My MIL (whom I love) taught him to dance and he has been a spinner ever since.

One of the interesting things is that we assumed part of it was that I was feeding him just after getting home so hubby started feeding him 5-10 minutes before I arrived. Maybe it's a Pavlov thing or something but he still acts the same exact way even if he has eaten right before I got home.

I need to stop feeding him altogether after I arrive home. Maybe until he at least isn't freaking out anymore.

That dog loves you with its whole heart
Feeling is mutual! ♥

Maybe some petting and a lot of "good dog" when it parks its behind on the floor will work.
I think that just ramps him up all over again.
posted by morganannie at 12:35 PM on October 25, 2010


I think that just ramps him up all over again.

If treats/praise ramp him back up, then leave again, let him calm down, and re-enter. If he is calm, treat, if he is not calm, ignore.

This takes serious amounts of patience and consistency.
posted by muddgirl at 12:36 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


[removed word from post at OPs request, it's easier to handle this stuff if you manage it via email and don't fuss in the comments, thanks]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:39 PM on October 25, 2010


This takes serious amounts of patience and consistency.

Thanks muddgirl. I will give the leave/enter trick a try tonight.
posted by morganannie at 12:39 PM on October 25, 2010


I know several owners of high-energy dogs who make it a practice to have the dog
"bring the toy" when they get home. Go find it! Get it! Get that toy and bring it here! Then you can throw it for him.

This at least channels his energy into something "productive."
posted by ErikaB at 12:45 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and whoever gets home first should make it a habit to tire the pup out. He's not naughty; he just has a lot of energy that needs to be burnt off.
posted by ErikaB at 12:46 PM on October 25, 2010


"bring the toy"

We try this and sometimes it works but he just goes to get it and then drops it or just won't go get it at all. I think he's way too anxious for this to work.

tire the pup out

I do walk him after he eats his dinner most nights. But by then he's for the most part very manageable.
posted by morganannie at 12:49 PM on October 25, 2010


Dumb question here, but what is so wrong about the excitement?

Is he trained to sit on command? Why not let him get a bit of the wiggle out and then,"SIT." Once he sits, lots of praise, maybe a treat. In other words, give the dog a positive behavior to aspire to instead of simply eliminating the negative one.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:53 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


but what is so wrong about the excitement?

His bark alone is enough to drive us crazy. It is so high pitched. It is embarrassing when we have visitors. Our neighbors can hear him.

He is trained to sit on command but he is too crazed when I get home to listen to/obey commands.
posted by morganannie at 12:57 PM on October 25, 2010


Also, I just don't think his behavior is healthy.
posted by morganannie at 12:59 PM on October 25, 2010


morganannie: "Also, I just don't think his behavior is healthy."

FWIW I would be fine with everything but the barking; the excitement is happiness, and the joy of animals is for me part of the joy of sharing my life with them. Unless the dog has a heart of joint condition that is exacerbated by 45 seconds of insane victory laps, I would let it go, reward the sit and work on "no barking!" in general and particularly in relation to greetings.

In other words I'm not sure that the expectation the dog sit politely as soon as you come home is really reasonable but you can probably curtail it something you find manageable if you focus on the one behaviour that makes the whole show intolerable for you.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:14 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


He actually does have an enlarged heart. Used to have two murmurs but they have gone away.

The barking is really the kicker. I worry about the spinning and running and jumping and everything else but the barking is unbearable.
posted by morganannie at 1:21 PM on October 25, 2010


nthing Muddgirl's 'This takes serious amounts of patience and consistency.'

The reason it will take a lot of patience and consistency, particularly if the dog is behaving this way in an effort to elicit a response (e.g. feeding), is that when you stop responding as expected, the dog will exhibit the behavior even more for a while. So the dog will be driving you even crazier than usual, and sometimes you'll be tempted to give in and dispense whatever it is the dog wants. That sort of pattern, where the behavior gets the desired results only some of the time, is just about the strongest way of reinforcing the behavior.

People react the same way. Gambling is a classic example.
posted by jon1270 at 1:50 PM on October 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ah yes. Extinction burst is the phenomenon jon1270 mentions. I hadn't thought to mention that-- nice.
posted by supercres at 2:29 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd take him for a walk as soon as I got home, if I were you, maybe just a short one, to get him outside and burn off some of that energy.

Feed him later, then a last walk before you go to bed.

I say this because, if he is just lying around all day before you get home, and then you try to get him to knock of the spinning and running around, I really feel like the poor little guy is not going to be active enough to keep him healthy and happy.
posted by misha at 4:38 PM on October 25, 2010


our dog does this. We just pick him up and give him his rubbies. Then we let him down and he runs around a bit ("I can't believe it! They're home!"), then he's picked up before he starts barking. Repeat 'til he needs a sip of water, during which time you can make it to the couch, where he can then join you for more rubbies.
posted by at at 4:54 PM on October 25, 2010


It is embarrassing when we have visitors.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about. In the video you linked, he's done with the whole OMGYAY!!! in approximately 50 seconds.

If visitors to my home are upset in some way by the existence of an extremely happy dog, they are not the kind of people I want in my home.
posted by crankylex at 5:43 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm with crankylex on this one. My dog (which probably weighs five times what yours does) goes totally nuts when I get home too... Granted, she doesn't bark, but she whines like crazy, spins like a top and runs from one end of the house to the other.

It warms my heart like nothing in the world. The thought of training her NOT to do that... no way!



(Of course, she barks at possums at three in the morning and THEN I want to kill her :)
posted by autocol at 6:04 PM on October 25, 2010


I'd take him for a walk as soon as I got home, if I were you, maybe just a short one, to get him outside and burn off some of that energy.

Seconded.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 PM on October 25, 2010


How do you ignore him/her? Arms crossed, head and eyes looking up, and back to the dog. You'll spin in circles trying to keep your back to the dog, but that's enough to shut down a lot of dogs.
Keep treats in your car/bag to bring to the door and give one to the dog as soon as he/she is sitting and quiet. Be quick so the dog doesn't have a chance to start freaking out again, and as you're giving the treat say "good quiet/settle/mellow/whatever". When the dog starts up again go back to ignoring it.

Can your husband tire the pooch out before you get home? Tired dogs are quiet dogs.

If you're most concerned about the barking, trying teaching it to bark on command. Dogs that have a strong "speak" are easiest to train with "quiet" in my experience.
posted by gally99 at 9:38 PM on October 25, 2010


I really appreciate all the practical advice! Keep it coming!

If you're most concerned about the barking, trying teaching it to bark on command. Dogs that have a strong "speak" are easiest to train with "quiet" in my experience.

He was taught to speak on command and then started barking to get food. He may be too smart for his own good. Once a dog is taught "speak" how do you teach "quiet"?

The thought of training her NOT to do that... no way!

I appreciate your love of dogs but his barking really is out of control. The pitch is ear-splitting.

they are not the kind of people I want in my home.

Not everyone wants to hear a dog shriek for 60 seconds. Or have a dog jump on them. I love my dog but he really needs help.
posted by morganannie at 6:07 AM on October 26, 2010


Once a dog is taught "speak" how do you teach "quiet"?

Give the speak command and praise him for all the horrible noise he's making. As soon as he takes a break to catch his breath start stuffing treats in his face and praise him with "good quiet". You want to reward him for doing it on his own, without you having to initiate it. After a few seconds of quiet give the speak command and do it all over again. If his "speak" is strong you should be able to get through several repetitions of this very quickly.
After a couple days (or even a couple minutes, depending on the dog) of treats-then-praise, start saying "good quiet" before giving the treats. After some more time start giving the "quiet" command before he stops barking on his own. If he listens to you he gets treats, if he doesn't, wait until he stops on his own and then reward him.
When he does get the "quiet" command down, don't stop giving him "speak" every once in a while. You want to make sure he knows that barking is ok, just not all the time.
posted by gally99 at 4:08 PM on October 26, 2010


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