Channeling Canine Energy
Think past the floppy ears, the wagging tail, and the soft supple coat. Visualize the essence of your dog - their insatiable curiosity, their playful excitement and their boundless energy.
A physical model of canine behaviour might resemble a boiler in a steam plant. Forces like heat and pressure cause energy to build. If the pressure becomes too great, cracks form at unpredictable points on the boiler casing and uncontrolled energy is released. To harness this energy, valves or taps are placed to channel energy in positive directions.
Rapid movements, the sight of other dogs, or the desire for food can cause a comparable increase in the "canine boiler". If the dog does not understand how to release this pressure, it is prone to display unpredictable behaviors.
A few weeks ago, I brought home a delightful puppy named Katie. The first few days were great, she was perfect. This didn't last too long. Soon, every time I took a few steps, I could feel her sharp little puppy teeth latch onto my pant leg. The movement of my pants built energy within the puppy. Katie released her energy by tugging on my pant leg. Corrections or punishment would cause her to release, but the pressure would increase.
The solution involves channeling energy into a behavior which is preferable to chewing my leg. Every time Katie displays an urge to grab by pant I distract her with a floppy rag. The rag creates more movement than my pant, so she is naturally attracted to it. When she latches onto the rag I begin to play a little tug-o-war game. After a few tugs back and forth I say, "Let go". When she releases I give Katie the rag. She prances around the house channeling any remaining energy into positive play with the rag.
When Katie awakens from a nap in her crate, I immediately take her outside to perform her bathroom duties. Once Katie finishes she receives a food treat. Then she wants to play, and runs around the yard looking for action. For Katie, play always involves racing around the yard and leaping upon slippers, sandals or bare feet.
Again, the solution involves channeling Katie's energy into a new behaviour. When Katie leaps for my feet, I redirect her attention to a ball in my hand. I roll the ball and Katie races after it and picks it up in her mouth. As she runs towards me, I catch her in my arms and tell her what a wonderful puppy she is. We repeat the retrieve a few more times. When she lets me have the ball for the final time, I give the ball to her. She prances around the yard channeling any remaining energy into positive play with the ball.
Curiosity, excitement and energy can be used to your advantage. Make positive behaviors fun and rewarding. Be firm, fair and consistent.Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists