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Dealing with Hyper Behavior

By Robin Tierney

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The following tip appears with the permission of trainer Sarah Wilson, and previously appeared in her newsletter, "Good Owners, Great Pets." For more information, see www.GreatPets.com.

Question: I have a 7-month-old chow/lab named Perry. In our household there is only myself, my boyfriend and Perry. In the last month, my boyfriend has been out of town several days a week on business. Perry is great while he is gone. When he returns, however, Perry turns into "psycho dog." He constantly barks at us, won't listen to commands, and pants and paws at us like he is very irritated. I'm really frustrated as to how to handle him. The only thing that settles him down is blocking him into the kitchen, where he lays down and is quiet, (but this is not how I want to continue) and the minute I let him out, he's crazy again. Please help.

Sarah's comments: Ah, the joys of adolescence. If Perry isn't neutered yet, now is the time.

I suspect that when your boyfriend is away, Perry gets a great deal of attention from you. When the boyfriend returns, that attention goes to him and Perry works to get it back in the only ways he knows to do so.

The first thing to do is to give Perry plenty of ways of earning your attention. No matter who is home or away, certain rules need to be in effect.

* Perry sits for all verbal praise, touching, treats, at doorways and before toys are given.

* Perry sits when you put the food bowl down. If he gets up before you say okay, simply lift the bowl back up. You will be surprised how quickly he learns this.

* Practice basic commands with Perry daily in short, fun sessions, which include lie down, come, wait and leave it.

* Sign up for a local, fun, effective, positive dog training class.

Ideally, do a few sits before you even take him out of the kitchen. If he does not sit readily, he doesn't come out of the kitchen. Try again in a few minutes.

When he is being "psycho-dog," have a lead on him. Have him do a few sits in a row. Help him if you need to and reward him well when he listens.

Make up a Kong (a great rubber toy), with cream cheese smeared inside or a marrowbone and bring him out of the kitchen after he sits a few times. Have him sit and give him the extra good chew toy. If this is only given to him when he is out, he may come to focus his excitement on that.

When he starts to act up and he will not listen, calmly take him to the kitchen for a few minutes. When he calms down, bring him back out. It should not take him too long to learn that

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