Case study: Winston
Winston is an adolescent lab who gets very excited when his dog walkers arrive to take him for a run in the forest. He has been known to continuously jump up and whine while the walkers enter and wrestle the harness onto him. As you may suspect, many nose bleeds have occurred!
We were called in to teach Winston what behaviour to offer instead when the walkers arrive. He now needs to sit in order for the door to open, for his harness to be put on, and for the door to re-open to let him out. Training this behaviour is a calm and quiet process. There is no need for excessive words, motions, or touches. The adding and removal of reinforcement is all that is needed. Reinforcement is contingent on Winston’s behaviour. For example, reinforcement (access to the dog walker when the door opens) is only given when Winston sits. If Winston pops up from the sit, then the reinforcement goes away (the door shuts for example) until he offers the sit again. It did not take Winston long to catch on! Check out this video of Winston practicing his new protocol for the second time.
If you have an overly-excited dog, try to implement this protocol! You will see your dog’s behaviour change right before your eyes.