Ask an Expert - Exuberant door greetings
Ask Delores Wall
Q: My Shepherd-cross, Charlie, is a dream when I leave, but as soon as she senses my return, a tirade of crying and barking ensues from the second my car pulls in the driveway until I enter the house. Even then, she jumps and whines circles around me. How can I prevent the over exuberant/verging-on psychotic greeting? —Frustrated by Freak-out in Fresno
A:Your question brought to mind a song by the Pointer Sisters “I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it…” but Charlie sounds a bit too excited to join the singing Pointer Sisters. So, how do we help stop the over-exuberance of Charlie? Did we unintentionally create this problem with hugs, kisses, and excitable chatter upon our arrivals, which can cause a dog to become greatly expectant waiting our arrival, and become even more stimulated as barking continues?
To help Charlie learn to chill, begin leaving and entering the house for a few seconds and minutes at a time and build the time spent outside before entering again. Each time you come into the house, initially ignore her, walk to the kitchen, and make a cup of tea, then quietly ask for a sit and say “Hi, Charlie.” Direct her to get her toy.
The next step is to leave again, open and close the car door. Walk back into the house and repeat above. If all is going well, go back out to the car, get in and start the engine, turn it off, and enter the house.
Gradually, add more steps to your routine, backing the car out and in, then going into the house. Each time, ignore Charlie when entering the house. Your homecoming should not be a big deal or instant party time.
Have her settle by running through a few of her manners such as sits and downs, and attention exercises, play ball, and then have her settle down for a while. Of course, she is going to need lots of walk time, especially if you are out for long periods of time, but again, have her follow a manners routine before heading out.