How to Tame a Spastic Dogby Jen Davis
You knew your puppy would be playful when you brought him home, but you may not have expected him to be even more active and destructive as an adult. A poorly behaved, overactive dog is difficult to take on outings and may wind up left in the backyard where there is little he can destroy or harm. A spastic dog with a short attention span and no manners is rarely an enjoyable pet or able to function as a valued member of your family. Fortunately you stand a good chance of being able to change his behavior with enough time and effort.
Enroll your dog in obedience school immediately. If you have been through obedience school and it did not help, try a different obedience school, take more classes or hire a professional dog trainer to work with you and your dog one-on-one. Obedience school training will help you learn how to control your dog and set boundaries with him.
Put your dog on a schedule. If you do not use a crate for your dog, start. Leave your dog in the kennel overnight so he cannot get into trouble. Make sure all of his time out of the kennel is structured and supervised so you can remain consistent teaching him good behavior and correcting bad behavior.
Change his food to something low energy that does not contain sugar. Some types of kibble are designed to provide high energy dogs with a lot of carbohydrates to burn off -- you don't want your spastic dog eating the canine equivalent of an energy drink at every meal. If you are unsure which food would be best for your dog, consult your vet. Also, cut out treats except for those that you are using to reinforce positive behaviors during training.
Put all that energy to good use and make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise. Certain breeds of dogs are high energy naturally and were bred to perform a job. When you put them in a home and expect them to simply sit around and behave with little activity, you are asking for behavioral problems. Make a point of giving your dog a significant amount of active playtime and interactive exercise every day.
Enroll your dog in doggie day care if you work all day and are not home to play with him. The busier you keep your pet, the less likely he is to be bouncing off your walls. Doggie day care and professional dog walkers will help take his edge off when you are too busy to work with him.
Be firm and consistent when you are working with your dog. If a behavior is not OK, it can never be OK -- not even when you're tired or busy or don't feel like dealing with your pet. Dogs, especially overactive ones, need a consistent schedule that does not vary or even occasionally reward bad behavior.
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- In some rare cases, spastic behavior may the result of a medical condition. Consult your veterinarian if significant training does not work.