Oh My Goodness, I Am So Glad You Are Home! I Have Been Waiting to Bite you All Day!!
Recently I got a message from an owner of a dog that suffers from this kind of over stimulation when she gets home from work.
I also just had a client who adopted a rescue dog that also had this problem, but in his case it was more severe.
A lot of dogs get over stimulated and excited; and if left to their own devices they don’t deal with it in a healthy manner. Most jump up, or run around, but some actually get aggressive and for some the aggression is fairly severe. Want to see videos on how to deal with an overly excited dog? Check them out here.
Not only are they over stimulated and over excited I believe they almost act as if they have a neurologic sensory disorder. Although I can’t prove it because they are dogs and we can’t ask them, I think it is almost like having a child with ADHD or autistic tendencies… (But, I can’t prove that!)
Either way; these dogs aren’t dealing with excitement in a normal fashion.
Often I see this in herding dogs, although any dog can suffer from it, I think the herding instinct kind of misfires and gets the teeth and jaws involved just like they would nip at stock when they are working.
My former Service Dog “Snitch” suffered from a mild form of this and when we would get home he would rush to the door and snatch a shoe. Then he would run from room to room wagging, growling and carrying his shoe.
He never ate a shoe, but I swear you could never find a mate when it was time to leave the house either (I actually miss that!)
I think he preferred shoes to toys because they smelled more like us; the ones that he loved!
He pretty much taught himself his own coping skills.
Fast forward a few years and my ex-husband and I were raising another Malinois named Paxil (maybe we cursed him). When we would open the door to his kennel, he would bite us HARD in the leg or arm and draw blood.
Even as a puppy he was extremely aggressive.
What Did We Do?
I had to teach him the same kind of coping skills that my previous dog had taught himself.
It wasn’t that he wanted to hurt us; he really didn’t! It was simply that he didn’t know how to deal with his excitement and in some ways his genetics told him to bite when he was excited.
So we placed a toy box right next to his crate.
But, at first he still wanted to rush out of his crate and bite.
So then as we let him out of his crate; we would wiggle the toy and he would come out and latch onto it.
But, I have found, that if you are not careful and you let go of the toy; sometimes the dog will drop the toy and come right back after you.
- Always keep a toy box near your dog’s crate.
- Wiggle the toy to engage him and give him something to latch onto.
- Hold it; while it is motionless (don’t tug) and still in his mouth to let him decompress.
- Motion (like you walking toward the door) can aggravate the over sensitivity, so stay still for a moment or two until he seems more composed.
- If he wants to let go of the toy and still come back on you, hold onto the toy as you walk him to a door to go outside.
- Do not engage in a game of tug as this will just continue to overstimulate him. The idea is that he just gets to keep something in his mouth and bite or suck on it to soothe his nerves.
- For one client I had her pack a fanny pack full of toys, so if her dog dropped the first toy and came back toward her excitedly she had something else to put in his mouth until she could get him outside.
- These tricks work for most overly sensitive biters and eventually you can teach the dog to go and get a toy on his own when he is overstimulated.
- Most dogs decompress after they have been outside for a few minutes.
But, a Few Dogs Are Severely Aggressive and Unpredictable!
The rescue dog that I worked with was an adult dog and so when he got excited and bit, he was dangerous.
And, to make matters worse his new owner never really knew when he would have a trigger that would excite him. It was always when she came home, but sometimes he would get excited and bite her when he was playing, or when her other dogs played, or when he went outside or came inside.
His behaviors were much harder to predict.
Seeking a Veterinary Behaviorist or someone who can prescribe calming drugs may be in order, if your dog is biting you excitedly and it is unpredictable.
No one wants to feel like they are unsafe or under siege all of the time; and I guarantee your dog isn’t comfortable if he feels like this often!
The number one thing to do is make sure you are comfortable dealing with a dog like this, and if you need help get it!