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  • Results 1 to 8 of 8
    1. #1
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      Jost's Avatar
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      Crazy 10 Year Old

      It's been many years since I posted here, however, the people here were so incredibly helpful with health issues while he was a puppy that I wanted to reach out again. My apologies in advance that this might get long. I'd simply like to provide as many details as possible. My lab will be 10 years old next month. He is by far the best dog I've ever had! Insanely smart, incredibly sweet, well behaved, never on the furniture, no chewing, no accidents, etc. However, we're still dealing with one problem: His energy level. Specifically his excitement level when it's not just the two of us around the house. I know the first thought is always exercise but he gets about 6 miles of walks everyday, tons of time running around in the yard, lots of mental stimulation, lot's of play time, trips to the dog park, swimming in the Gulf, but in the 10 years he's been with me, I have never figured out how to drain that energy. It's incredible the amount of energy he has. At 10 years old, he can run circles around 6 month old puppies! However, his energy level isn't the core of the problem. It's that he has "NO" control over his excitement. He's the type of dog that has always gone everywhere with me. Always experiencing new things, different locations, different friends homes, different people, I constantly have people over to the house... you probably get the idea. He's by no means sheltered LOL. Even with all of the different stimuli that he has experienced and continues to experience, each different situation, in his mind, to him is still the newest, greatest thing that ever happened in his life. I have worked so hard with him over the past 10 years to break this but still have gotten nowhere. Besides the fact that I have to strongly monitor his activity due to his age and concern for injuries, it truly is becoming more than just a little annoyance. My GF has an 8 year old lab who is the polar opposite temperament. I swear he's just an overgrown, lazy cat. While there's no problems between the 2 dogs (they couldn't care less about each other), the excitement level when I bring my dog to her house is just constantly bouncing off the walls. We've put a kennel up in her home, will put him in it for lengths of time in hopes that he'll calm down, but as soon as he is let out, it's grab a toy and run around the house at 100mph! We ignore him, but it doesn't stop. The dog is a master at entertaining himself. The same happens at my home. Any time somebody comes over, he feels that their sole purpose for being there is to play with him. Years ago, and it continues to this day, I started meeting guests in the driveway and telling them to simply ignore the dog, he'll eventually calm down. However, we're talking hours, not just a matter of 10 minutes, that it takes him to realize that. While he has never once actually jumped on anybody (he will pogo stick right in front of you, but never actually touch you) it is a concern with older family and friends that his constant running around is going to bump into somebody and hurt them. It really sucks that he so often has to spend the evening in a bedroom, away from the company, simply because he can't control his excitement. Unfortunately, his excitement level is starting to negatively affect my GF and I's relationship. Having him at her house is now becoming a chore. While he's still welcome there and I'd love to take him with every time, I'm now choosing to leave him at home most of the time simply so we don't have to deal with craziness. The sad part is that very few people get to hang out with the amazing dog that I get to hang out with. When it's just him and I, he's perfect. I couldn't ask for a better dog. I need ideas please. I feel like there has to be one training technique that I've neglected to try. Please send them my way. It would be greatly appreciated!!!

    2. #2
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      I don't know if this would help but it almost seems like he's never been trained to just be chill without being in a crate, he didn't learn to turn off the happy, active side of himself. The place I take my dogs for obedience, one of the first things they have us do is what they call "sit on it". I'll cut and paste below so you see what that is exactly. You progress from working on getting them to sit quietly next to you to having them lie on a bed next to you, then farther and farther away. You give them a bed or mat that they can lie on and they get accustomed to being calm when they're on their mat. Eventually you work up to telling the dog to go to his place (bed, mat, etc) and stay (assuming he knows the Stay command) and make him go there and stay there when people come over so he gets over his initial wildly-happy-to-see-you-again-my-very-best-friend to feeling more calm before approaching them. You can also have him be in a crate when people come over where he can see them but they all need to ignore him until he's calm enough to come out and not act like a nut case. I think if he starts revving up on his way out of the crate, you close the door again a wait a few minutes until he learns he has to be calm to come out. Maybe his happiness and excitement to see you or your friends again was cute and fun and he got a lot of positive reinforcement for his happy, happy behavior when he was younger but now it's not so cute. Unfortunately, the behavior is probably pretty well ingrained and may be hard to change but if your relationship is being negatively influenced, it's worth a try.

      It doesn't look like this is trademarked or copyrighted but it's from Best Friends Dog Obedience, just in case. Here's their sit on it approach:

      The “sit-on-it” is a 30 minute exercise to be done at home. This exercise should be done 5 times per week while the dog is in a relaxed mood (during a television show is a good way to monitor the time).
      You should start by sitting on the leash, in a chair, next to the dog, with the dog on your left. The dog need not be in any particular position, but must not jump on, mouth, or bother you, nor attempt to get away (pulling hard on the leash). Any attempts to gain your attention must be corrected with a firm (not loud) NO!, and, if needed, a downward pop on the leash to move the dog off of you. The goal is for the dog to get very bored and lie down with nothing better to do.
      Do not use treats or toys to occupy the dog.
      The progression each week should be as follows. Do not move to the next level unless you’re successful at the previous level.
      Week 1 - see above
      Week 2 - You should be getting compliance easily
      Week 3 - Introduce a bed or mat for your dog to lie on. Drop the leash.
      Week 4 - Place the bed ~3’ away from you, continue w/dropped leash.
      Week 5 - Place the bed ~6’ away, continue w/dropped leash or “tab” leash.
      Week 6 – Put the bed in your place of choice, but stay in the room. Stop using the leash.


      Use this exercise whenever practical – waiting at the vet’s office, having company arrive (have another household member greet the guest while you have your dog settle next to you), while eating dinner, etc.





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    4. #3
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      Agree with everything that smartrock said above. We use the "go to bed" (go lay on his bed and not leave until we say he can) command all. the. time. By far the command that I am happiest to have spent the time teaching. Because as you said, even though he's not actually jumping on anyone, when you have a large dog just their regular movement can become a safety concern or an annoyance with guests.

      I think that it will be hard to change this very ingrained behavior at this age, and as smartrock said he probably did get positive reinforcement for this for a lot of his younger life. It is really interesting the things that owners are teaching their dogs without even meaning to just from giving positive reinforcement. For example my dog loves going through our legs repeatedly as a greeting. We love it, my mother does not love it because she's not steady on her feet, and while we didn't "teach" him to do this, I'm sure the first time he did it we thought it was hilarious and amazing and praised him for it (and we still do because we're smitten with him of course).

      He sounds like a really sweet dog and I wish you the best of luck!
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    5. #4
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      Ten years of reinforcement...well, it's going to take a few years to change it! So, management is a good place to start. Crate or x-pen are your choices. You can try the mat training as mentioned above. If he is food motivated, you can give him a stuffed frozen Kong, a puzzle toy, a big meaty knuckle bone or something like that. Teach him, when it's just the two of you, that he only gets it in a certain spot, like on a mat or a towel. But my feeling is that it's less of a behavior and more of an emotional state, which is what makes it hard.

      All of the exercise conditions the dog to require that kind of exercise. He's probably so well conditioned, that it doesn't tire him any longer. What about mental stimulation? Do you train? Nosework? Anything that provides mental conditioning? He sounds like he could use a job.

      In the end, he's conditioned to act this way due to his long history of doing so, he's in tip top physical shape, probably some genetic stuff going on, too. And, after a decade, changing it will require a lot of hard work on your part, tons of patience on the parts of you and your GF, consistency, and hope. I think you need to work on management and trying ways to improve things, but I think you and your GF are going to have to discuss it and come to the conclusion that you'll do your best and hopefully it'll all work out, but not to have high expectations. It's not the dog's fault.

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    7. #5
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      I was thinking the same...even though your dog gets tons of PHYSICAL exercise, he also needs MENTAL exercise. This is where he may be lacking.

      I'm surprised to hear that a 10 year old Lab can still have this much energy!

    8. #6
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      Thank you all for the ideas!!! I knew I came back to the right place. I think it may be time to work harder on the "go to your spot" training. We currently do this, and the excitement returns as soon as he is released. However, I may be able to find a length of time or a way of releasing that will work. I'll readily admit that part of it is unconscious reinforcement on my part. He and I are very much alike in the sense that we're both very active and high strung (I suck at relaxing too LOL). I'll brainstorm for more mental stimulation "games". I've tried different puzzle toys/games, have put him in his spot while I hide treats around the house, etc. The little weirdo genius in him always figures those puzzles out insanely fast and then I stand there asking myself "Did I just spend $50 on a toy that took him a minute and a half to figure out???". I've always been a very strong proponent of serious training. My ex used to call it puppy boot camp. It continues to this day with constant refreshers and always revisiting older commands or tricks that may not have been used much lately. One of the games I started playing with him at a very young age was naming his toys and then sending him on a search to go find that specific toy. Example: "Jost, go find your choco teddy" or "Jost, go find your wubba". It's progressed to the point that he now knows over 20 toys by name and we play that game multiple times a day. I can only imagine what a wild child he would have been if not for the strict training and years of obedience classes and competitions. It is funny that one of you brought up that your dog goes between your legs. Mine does the exact same thing. As someone who's 6'4", it's really never bothered me. However, it's definitely a problem when shorter friends come over. I have to remind them to not stand with their legs spread too wide, haha. Thank you again for the feedback!

    9. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jost View Post
      Thank you all for the ideas!!! I knew I came back to the right place. I think it may be time to work harder on the "go to your spot" training. We currently do this, and the excitement returns as soon as he is released. However, I may be able to find a length of time or a way of releasing that will work. I'll readily admit that part of it is unconscious reinforcement on my part. He and I are very much alike in the sense that we're both very active and high strung (I suck at relaxing too LOL). I'll brainstorm for more mental stimulation "games". I've tried different puzzle toys/games, have put him in his spot while I hide treats around the house, etc. The little weirdo genius in him always figures those puzzles out insanely fast and then I stand there asking myself "Did I just spend $50 on a toy that took him a minute and a half to figure out???". I've always been a very strong proponent of serious training. My ex used to call it puppy boot camp. It continues to this day with constant refreshers and always revisiting older commands or tricks that may not have been used much lately. One of the games I started playing with him at a very young age was naming his toys and then sending him on a search to go find that specific toy. Example: "Jost, go find your choco teddy" or "Jost, go find your wubba". It's progressed to the point that he now knows over 20 toys by name and we play that game multiple times a day. I can only imagine what a wild child he would have been if not for the strict training and years of obedience classes and competitions. It is funny that one of you brought up that your dog goes between your legs. Mine does the exact same thing. As someone who's 6'4", it's really never bothered me. However, it's definitely a problem when shorter friends come over. I have to remind them to not stand with their legs spread too wide, haha. Thank you again for the feedback!
      Sometimes we just have to accept our dogs for who they are. It sounds like you love your dog and appreciate him and all of his quirks and it sounds like you've done your best with him and created a situation that works for the two of you. It's unfortunate that your GF and friends and family cannot or do not appreciate him like you do, but that's not all that unusual. It's funny how we can tolerate, even love, the obnoxious things our own dogs (or kids) do, but cannot tolerate other dogs (or kids). It's human nature, I guess. The key is to manage the dog, especially if it's a physical situation where someone could be hurt, and to have friends who do their best with your dog and love him because you love him. Your dog is going to really start to slow down here in a year or two and will continue to do so until he's gone, and that time will come in the blink of an eye. Love him while you can.

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    11. #8
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      I'd just say enjoy it while it lasts. The day will come when he will not be able to walk 6 miles, run circles around puppies etc because his legs will ache. I sure miss those with Cookie, although he is still fairly active considering his age. I'd do anything to have just one day of those we had when he was younger.

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