Everyday Training: Control that Adrenalin

I love to hike with my dog.  He's pretty calm, considering he still got that puppy energy.  He is, after all, only 10 months old right now. In the 8 months that he has lived with me, he has learned to control his adrenalin very well.

Have you ever tried to feed a dog that was over adrenalized? If not, I'm sure you've probably at least seen them. They have a tendency to bark at their owners, pace the floor and pant and whine. This is all due to adrenaline.

A few months back, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with Chad Mackin, former president of the International Association of Canine Professionals.  It was Chad that opened my eyes to training our best friends with respect and love.  It was also through one of his workshops that I learned that training helps dogs learn how to control their adrenalin.

There are many techniques to training dogs. You might hear of dogs that are "Hard" or dominant in nature. Some dogs are soft, they tend to be more submissive.  My dog Jake has dominant tendencies, which make him very independent.  In some ways this is good, because with encouragement, he has learned to think for himself within the rules and boundaries that I have set. For other dogs that have not had rules or boundaries set, this type of personality can be devastating to the relationship with their human.

So how do you help a dog deal with their adrenalin. You assess their personality and train with a technique that will reward them for de-adrenalized behavior and correct them for behavior that is adrenalized.  A good trainer can help you with this.

To reinforce training learned in group class, when you're at home, you can do a mini-session that focuses on de-adrenalized behavior.  According to Chad, food tends to get dogs excited, especially if you have a food driven dog.  Jake, my dog, is food driven. When Jake was younger, he used to whine or run around when I would pull out the feed bowls. Sound familiar? To reinforce calm behavior, Jake must sit or down until I tell him that he has permission to eat. This is a mini-session that we do everyday. It reinforces the idea that calm behavior will get him a reward. It is training the STAY command as well as reinforcing calm behavior.

Train everyday with respect and love.

Here is a fantastic interview with Chad Mackin, creator of Pack to Basics Socialization and Dogmanship (I have taken both of these workshops). This interview deals with adrenaline in dogs (how to recognize and deal with it). Both Chad and Ty give some great tips on building a calm state of mind for your dog.