Dogcharmer: Lola

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Lola and Gracie — Courtesy Jen Coogan

Hi there,

This is our puppy Lola, with her big sister Gracie. She gets super-excited when guests come to the house, and “nervous wets.” What can we do to stop this?!

Thanks,

Jen

 

Dear Jen,

Using the term “nervous wets” is right on the money, and makes it pretty clear that a major part of the solution is to decrease the “nervous.” Lola’s super excitement is coupled with anxiety at the arrival of people at her “den,” so one of the first things to strive for is making the arrival and entrance less exciting by not being focused on her.

This applies to those family and friends that she loves, in addition to people she’s meeting for the first time. The fam and friends have to be told, in no uncertain terms, not to drop to their knees and hug and kiss the dog. As a matter of fact, do not acknowledge her other than a quick “Hi,” with no more than a fleeting second’s worth of eye contact. And if you fail to heed my advice and greet her vociferously, and she pees as a result, here are the paper towels and vinegar for you to blot up the pee and clean.

As for strangers, people Lola doesn’t know, they have to be told to basically ignore the dog, or she will pee in excitement. I would also suggest the proactive approach of a door turmoil routine, teaching Lola a routine at the door which will serve as a redirection of her anxious energy. Instead of totally focusing on the visitor, her focus will be redirected to earning treats by cooperating to insure a civil greeting at the door. When Lola rushes to the door at someone’s arrival, she is praised lightly for the alert and then told to go to her spot near the door, sit, and stay, for a treat. When two-legged greetings are done, she can be released with a calm “OK,” at which point she can come forward to earn her second treat when she sits. The guest is still required to basically ignore Lola until sometime later, when she’s calmed down a lot.

This is not an easy routine to teach, because it requires redirecting a dog’s instinctive territorial response. De-emotionalizing grand entrances at the door results in less emotion, which results in less pee.

 

Good luck,

The Dogcharmer

 

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