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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Almost 2 weeks ago, my mother adopted Grace, a 5 yr. old beagle/border collie mix from the shelter. We don't truly know anything for sure about her past, but she was left at the shelter when she was younger once before too.

We walk her 2-3 times a day for 20+ mins at a time. I think she could easily go for 5 walks a day. She isn't tired out easily, we're looking into getting her a backpack.

She is adjusting well with us aside from her reasonable restlessness. Her major problem though is the height of excitement she can get herself into when she thinks she's going for a walk, or even sees her leash at all. She's made herself hyperventilate once and I hate seeing her go through the frenzy, just because the leash triggers her so badly. Even us getting shoes on, putting our hair up, or putting a sweater on triggers her, without the leash around.

My mother and I have tried to come up with a solution to this. We have tried these things, let me know if they're effective at all:

1. When she was calm and laying down, I introduced the leash by putting it on the floor near her. Even this excited her, so I ignored her until she calmed down. Then I'd keep waiting, picking it up and putting it down a few times, eventually clipping the leash onto her, and waited until when I picked the leash up, she wouldn't start whimpering or seem excited. We had a very nice, calm walk after I accomplished this. It took, tops, 5-10 minutes.
~This worked extremely well but my mother doesn't bring the same energy into it when I've tried doing it in the room with her. She is a rushed person and doesn't have much patience, I couldn't get the same results with my mom in the room. I tried for 45 mins with no success this way.

2. My mother walks her in the mornings and doesn't have time to sit and do the exercise I do with her. She will ask her to sit, then clip the leash on her, and immediately Grace will start whining and being overexcited (wakes me up early every morning). My mother will then kneel with her, holding her and petting her and comfortingly tell her to calm down until she's relatively quiet.
~Though I've noticed as soon as she lets go of Grace, she goes right back into excitement.

3. More recently we've been desensitizing her to the leash, by walking around the house with it in our hands, then putting it down. Leaving it on the floor, etc. and ignoring her excited reaction. Today I clipped it onto her then ignored her excited state until she relaxed on the floor with it on, then we left for a walk. This seemed to help.


I think one reason she gets so excited is because she doesn't know how to entertain herself yet so it's her only outlet. She has zero interest in any toys but will occasionally chew on her bone. We've tried everything with every kind of toy. Hopefully she'll get better in time with this though.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated, my goal is for Grace to be excited of course, but not get to the insane level she does. I want her to be calm, obedient, and respectful.
 

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I`m not very experienced and I´m sure someone with more knowledge will come and give their 2 cents.
But to me it seems that YOU are doing very well (your mom`s method doesn`t work).

Do you train her? I have an energetic big dog and sometimes the fastest way to exhaust her/get her in a calm state is training! Mental work really helps with hyperactivity etc. We try to train her ca 10 minutes a day but you could put in several session or do it longer.

I would suggest doing focusing-on-you exercises (in addition to other stuff), such as put a treat in your hand and close your palm tight, at first she will try to lick your palm/open it, but soon she`ll realize that that doesn`t work and sit back and look you in the eyes. Then you must treat instantly. If she has figured that out, you move it up to the next level: raise your arm (with the treat securely in your palm) next to you up to your shoulder height, again she may jump etc to get the treat but you`re not giving her any until she settles down and looks you in the eyes.

I`d practice this several times a day. My dog knows this "trick" very well and when we`re out and about and she gets hyper/too excited (she`s young and usually starts jumping, chewing the leash), I just raise my arm with the treat in my hand and she settles instantly. Oh and as she progresses, you delay giving the treat every time a bit longer.

This exercise helps to switch the dogs brain from OMGGGG HOW FUUNNNN to ohh, ok, I must sit pretty and look her in the eyes.

You could do it when you`re about to go walking and the first 5 minutes of the walk - maybe that will take the edge off.

Make sure the treat is super tasty.
 

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Your strategies seem sound. Hopefully you can get your mom on board a bit more, because being patient now in the long run really will pay off. Her method, essentially restraining the dog into calmness, won't desensitise her to the lead as you have noticed, and will not be as effective as 1. and 3. Good luck keeping up with them, you should see good results :)

Just want to say that as part border collie, she probably needs more stimulation than just walks can give her. If you can find other ways to entertain her it will take the intense pressure off of walk. Training tricks would be good, as would some kind of dog sport.
@secrets0stolen pretty much nailed it!
 

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Have you tried puzzle toys with extremely high-value treats in them? Or feeding her meals in a kibble dispenser? It may take time for her to realize she has to figure it out/use it or she won't get her breakfast/dinner, but it sounds as though she really does need more mental exercise. You can even make your own puzzle toys and dispensers, there are lots of videos on Youtube that show how to make them out of everyday products.

Focusing too much on physical exercise can just build more physical stamina in her, without draining that mental energy. As you're experiencing, it can create a dog with little self-control.

Also, a flirt pole is great for both physical and mental exercise:

The Flirt Pole: Dog Toy or Life Changer? | notes from a dog walker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo8NNbYPuqc

Training Video: Flirt Pole Basics on Vimeo

I think more consistent work on desensitizing her to the things that trigger her over-arousal/excitement, as well as tons of mental exercise, will really help. Constantly reward her for calm behavior around her triggers, and while being calm with the leash actually on, or with you randomly holding it. Here are some links that may help you:

Energetic, Anxious, or Reactive Dog? Try the Calm-O-Meter Method | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Nine Steps to a Calm, Relaxed, Quiet Canine. Have a Go at DRO. | awesomedogs

Walking An Excited Dog - Whole Dog Journal Article
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I`m not very experienced and I´m sure someone with more knowledge will come and give their 2 cents.
But to me it seems that YOU are doing very well (your mom`s method doesn`t work).

Do you train her? I have an energetic big dog and sometimes the fastest way to exhaust her/get her in a calm state is training! Mental work really helps with hyperactivity etc. We try to train her ca 10 minutes a day but you could put in several session or do it longer.

I would suggest doing focusing-on-you exercises (in addition to other stuff), such as put a treat in your hand and close your palm tight, at first she will try to lick your palm/open it, but soon she`ll realize that that doesn`t work and sit back and look you in the eyes. Then you must treat instantly. If she has figured that out, you move it up to the next level: raise your arm (with the treat securely in your palm) next to you up to your shoulder height, again she may jump etc to get the treat but you`re not giving her any until she settles down and looks you in the eyes.

I`d practice this several times a day. My dog knows this "trick" very well and when we`re out and about and she gets hyper/too excited (she`s young and usually starts jumping, chewing the leash), I just raise my arm with the treat in my hand and she settles instantly. Oh and as she progresses, you delay giving the treat every time a bit longer.

This exercise helps to switch the dogs brain from OMGGGG HOW FUUNNNN to ohh, ok, I must sit pretty and look her in the eyes.

You could do it when you`re about to go walking and the first 5 minutes of the walk - maybe that will take the edge off.

Make sure the treat is super tasty.
That's great advice and I'll definitely try it, I don't have much experience with giving dogs good mental stimulation but I'm glad you and the other people who replied suggested it. It's a huge help. Thanks so much!
 

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Congrats on your new dog! And, welcome to the Dog Forum. :)

You've gotten great advice so far. Since you've only had Grace for a couple of weeks, keep being patient with her. It's going to take several more weeks for her to settle in and feel at home and for you and your mom to know her well and bond with her. The more than you develop a routine with her, the more she's going to know what to expect and how to behave.

Also, you may want to start doing some basic training with her. Check out kikopup's youtube videos on clicker training. This will help mentally stimulate Grace, and you'll be able to redirect some of her extra energy.

Good luck! :)
 

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had almost exactly the same thing with my staffy Tilly, a 2yr old rescue, never trained, never walked on a leash, never played with any toys or had any treats, so conventional forms of reward based training never had any effect.

i bought a very cheap chain lead which i'd leave on the floor, Tilly basically walked around with it in her mouth for a few days before the novelty wore off and the excitement of the lead passed, she now uses it to tell me when she needs to go for a wee.

as for the hyperactivity of going for a walk, just like training a dog to let you go out of a door first, i'd stand by the open door, and wait for her to calm down, then step outside, if she got hyper again, we'd go back in immediately, i think it took her about an hour to realise she had to stay calm and got a nice long walk out of it

btw, a very cheap and fun way to get dogs to learn how to play and take treats, is to get some plastic disposable cups (like the ones from childrens parties), use 3 upside down, and hide a treat under 1 of them, it taught Tilly to sit, wait, go, as well,
 

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Maybe just leave it on and let her drag it around. The more its on the less she will care about it. With a hound and boarder collies long walks or running beside a bike will help get rid of excess energy. Both of those dog breeds need lots of running to tire them out.
 
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