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I can't walk my dog because he's too excited!

(Q) Our Dobermann X Staffordshire Bull Terrier gets very excited when we take him for walks. He makes little crying noises, shakes, and runs around. After having his lead put on and leaving the house, he then rounds up the person with the lead, tripping up the person who isn’t holding the lead.

It’s getting to the point where we can’t go out together any more as he’s impossible to hold.

(A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: Your dog gets overexcited when he knows he’s about to go out on a walk. This is a very exciting time for a young dog and often causes problems for owners.

The key is regular training and clear rewards for good behaviour. You need to remain as calm as possible to prevent any further excitement. First of all, consider how much exercise he’s getting and whether this is enough. A cross-breed like this will require plenty of physical and mental stimulation to keep him well behaved.

Every day you should practise the basic commands with him, so you can easily get him to sit and wait while you clip his lead on. Stay calm, and remain in position by the door. Your dog needs to learn that if he wants to go out for a walk then he must come and sit for you. Don’t chase him around to put the lead on, as this will make the situation more frantic. Calmly praise him when he does settle but be prepared for this to take some time when you first begin.

Use food rewards to lure him into place beside you and make sure that he is given rewards every few paces at first as this will help to keep his attention focused on you. Several short walks to get the practice in will help, though initially you may find that training is easier on the way back from walks once his excess energy has been used up.

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