I have recently (a little over month ago) adopted a dog from a shelter. He is year and a half old mutt, looking a little terrier - like, shaggy and wirehaired. He was at the shelter for half a year and he went for a walk there once a week. No one knows what was his story before that time. He is not trained at all (I actually found a "dog school", that we will start going to in a month), but when we go for a walk he looks if I am still behind him and stops to wait for me if he outruns me. In general, he comes when I call him (most of the time) and "checks on me", when he plays with other dogs (which he loves).

He loves to run and if he doesn't run enough he gets bored quickly and destroys stuff at home or moves them to the middle of the room. When I am at home, he nibbles lightly on my hands or legs and licks my face and tries to stand on me (he gets quite needy and active). That is why I started to let him off the leash pretty quickly after I got him.

But recently I have noticed that he gets crazy around small dogs (he reaches my knee and is very slim, but weighs 15 kg, so he can be considered medium sized I think), especially if they are on the leash. He starts to jump and barks at them and even though he is not aggressive and honestly looks like he wants to play with them, he scares the heck out of the dogs (who, to be honest, sometimes start barking first and do not look too friendly while at it, but he's bigger so it can look alarming) and their owners. At the same time he want let me touch him and won't come if I call him - he's lost in the moment. Afterwards he once got diarrhoea, though it could be caused by the fact that the dog owner we met was pretty drunk.

How can I help this situation and calm him down? Or exercise without letting him off the leash? I started to keep him on a leash, but even though we walk for at least 2-3 hours daily, he seems not exercised enough. I would also note that I am currently not fit enough to run with him as much as he wants so I need quick and creative fix to make the situation better while I am getting fitter. I don't want people and their pets to avoid us like plague, since he loves playing with other dogs and most of the time does so beautifully.

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    Does this answer your question? Alternatives to walking a dog
    – Allison C
    Mar 2, 2020 at 17:42
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    Some of answers are not useful if I am not able to let him off leash (he gest distracted when we play). Also, what I should have added previously - we use snuffle mat to feed him and play with him at home with ropes. He also gets bones to chew and has some toys that he can chew also. We practice sit, but it takes time for him to learn new stuff and it doesn't seem to tire him much (maybe if he knew more commands). But he is young, terrier-like mutt, who likes chasing and hunting and sniffing and has extreme amounts of energy, so I was looking for sth more inspiring. Thanks anyway. Mar 9, 2020 at 10:48

1 Answer 1


The problem here isn't that he isn't exercised enough, the problem is that he's too excited. Those are 2 different things. He could see a big dog before he had any walk this day (hasn't exercised) and still stay calm. And he could have the longest walk of his life, see a small dog and still get too excited despite being physically tired.

Personally, I wouldn't let the dog off the leash if you can't recall him reliably. You could use a long leash to give him freedom to run around, but you must keep him on the leash to keep control over him.

Another possible method is an impulse collar. These are commonly known as "shock collars" but please never administer electric shocks to the throat of your pet. There are alternatives that vibrate or emit a sound. These are far better than the shock collars. And you should only activate them via remote control, because automatic "anti bark collars" are unreliable.

If he starts barking at a dog, call out a warning command like "back to me", count to 2 and if he doesn't listen, activate the collar. The 2 seconds timing is important for him to learn that the activation of the collar is linked to your command. This has the benefit of (hopefully) disrupting his behavior and also gives him a much better chance to learn. If he does react to your warning and stops barking, you should reward him profusely.

In addition to stopping his barking when it happens, you should also train staying calm with him before he even starts barking.

One method that worked very well for me was physically turning the dog around. That doesn't mean rolling him on his back, but turning his head away from the dog and his behind towards the dog. Of course he wants to turn towards the small dog and approach him, but by turning him away (and keeping him turned away) you tell him that you don't want him approaching this dog. You should kneel down next to your dog and stay very calm in that position for a while (maybe until the small dog passed by or until your dog looks at you instead of the small dog). It's very important that you stay calm in body language and in don't speak too much with him.

And it's another reason to keep him on a leash because you have no chance of turning him around if he can run away from you.

  • May I also add something to Elmy's Comment. Getting a RC Shock Collar wouldnt be that bad of an idea either, one where you can set a voltage (There will be a max volatage limit) and the collar will only shock the dog for as long as the owner holds the button down. Apr 20, 2021 at 16:19
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    Some time passed and I wasn't visiting this website, so I will mark it as a response and thank you for answering. I would like to urge people NEVER to get shock collars for their dogs. In my opinion (and those of some Animal-friendly societies), it is just inhumane. What I do now is forcing my dog to focus on me, when it happens. I use the command "Quiet" if he gets hyper and I tell him to calm down at his bed if it happens at home. I still let him off the leash, but since then we move to a very remote location and I do it only if there isn't any possibility of meeting any dog or human. Aug 3, 2021 at 11:27
  • Any dog or human that we don't know or in an environment, we cannot control (didn't have enough chars left to finish). We also got leashes of varying lengths to use in different situations (ca. 2m if we walk, but we also have 5 and 15-meter ones for playing). We don't use ones called "flexi" (those you can extend, so a dog can pull how much he wants) and changed his food to one that has a lower amount of protein in it (both things were advised by behavioral specialist, the other thing is something about protein-dense foods being discouraged for hyperactive dogs). Thank you again :-) Aug 3, 2021 at 11:37

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