Dog too excited about visitors
By JOHN WADE, QMI Agency
Dear John Wade:
We have been having some issues with our 12-month-old Great Dane. Diva gets very excited when people come over. She is big and heavy and runs around and bumps guests and leans on them and licks their faces when they sit on the couch. We instruct our visiting friends not to look at her or touch her or talk to her until she is calm, but she still gets very overexcited. — C.J.
I always get a kick out of the advice that some dog trainers suggest dog owners should tell guests in order to calm a rambunctious dog.
Telling someone not to look at a Great Dane that's literally face to face when they're seated in a chair, particularly when they are the dog-nervous, is sort of like saying to your guest on the way to your family room, "Mind you don't step on one of the crocodiles. They're a little cranky today."
You may know that your dog is peaches-and-cream but it takes a load of faith in the dog's owner to convince others not to worry when a 150-plus pound animal tries to wrap itself around them like a fur coat and hose them down with a saliva-gushing tongue.
She is far too young to assume she's always going to be excited in a positive way when guests come over. Wait until she's two years and then you'll have a better idea.
She's a child yet and someday between 18 months and two years she may catch a glimpse of herself in a mirror and think, "Holy smoke! I'm a Great Dane! Weren't we originally bred to hunt wild boar and property protection? Wait a second, who's that coming through the door?"
Those genes are pretty watered down in Great Danes, so you're likely going to be OK. Nevertheless, I encourage people to not make any assumptions until a dog has been full grown for some time.
As far as immediately curbing her enthusiasm, the first thing to do is buy a mat, in her case closer to a mattress might be in order.
Teach her to stay on it whenever you're in the kitchen together, and when you are at the door through which guests arrive and depart.
For practice, knock on your own door and ring your own doorbell.
Get her used to dragging a leash inside your home so you can convince you can get to the door before she can.
With her it might be a bit like being on the wrong end of a tractor pull so make sure you have some collar leverage. If she doesn't like the one you're using, try one of mine at www.wadecollar.com. It's pretty good for hard-to-handle dogs.
I like to take the mat to different areas where she might get as excited as when a guest comes over. Near a dog park, where squirrels hang out, near a mall, that sort of thing. That way you can simulate the same excitement visits elicits and reinforce the lesson of self control.
The mat gives her a job (of sorts) when guests come over -- assuming you still have guests coming over.
John Wade helps dog owners through his books, workshops and telephone consultations. E-mail him at email@example.com, or visit his website at johnwade.ca.