1 - Don't tell them to sit.
When anyone gets excited the last thing anyone wants to do is sit still. Imagine watching the lottery draw and seeing that you have won. Would you be sitting still? I'm pretty sure for most of us it would be the last thing we would think to be doing.
When a surge of adrenaline goes through a body, the easiest thing to do is move. Get them moving with you instead of just nagging them to sit.
2 - Don't try to train them when they're losing their mind.
Once your crazy dog has got to their full blown crazy stage don't even bother trying to train them then. Unless you have done a lot of training it will likely just not work. At best you'll be able to manage them when they do reach their crazy. This is a skill in itself. How we handle the lead is very important. And just to be clear, if you're at the end of the leash yelling NO or STOP, this isn't a good way to handle the situation.
3 - Train them A LOT when they aren't so crazy.
From experience most of the dogs that we work with that seem a little crazy out and about have very few foundational skills put in place. A really well trained dog is a dog that has been taught basic skills THOROUGHLY.
Imagine having a dog focus on you more than anything else. You can really achieve this if you practice enough regardless of how impossible that may seem right now.
How often should you practice? Do 5 or 10 minutes broken up throughout the day. All you need to do is pay your dog for looking at you. Start doing that in the house, then in the garden, then on the streets etc etc. If you don't have a completely different dog in a week or 2 weeks that's normal. Training takes time.
4 - Don't just let them do the things you want them to stop doing because it's easy for you in that moment of time.
It will just make things worse long term. The amount of times we start working with people and we see them just let their dog pull them over to another dog or they let them off leash because they are bouncing up and down. If we want to stop it we can't reinforce it full stop! If we did this with children we'd have a society full of grown ups that kick up a fuss whenever they don't get their own way. It's a good thing to say 'no, you can't do that right now'.
5 - Work with their crazy, not against it.
Sometimes I wonder why some people get dogs in the first place. All the things that make them dogs people seem to dislike. The amount of times we are told 'my dog barks' or 'my dog digs' or 'my dog chases rabbits'. Of course they do! They're dogs. Imagine the dog thinking 'my human goes to work' or 'my human sits and reads a book' or 'my human cooks their food BEFORE they eat it... HOW DO I STOP THEM!?
Every animal has species appropriate behaviour. Instead of trying to stop dogs being dogs, we need to help them be able to behave like dogs safely in our society.
6 - Don't keep saying 'no' or 'calm down' to get them to calm down.
Have you ever had a complete freak out or meltdown and some doughnut has told to you to 'just calm down'. If it were that easy we'd all be very level headed productive people. Unfortunately not many of us can simply just calm down. Sure we can develop better coping mechanisms over time and we can help our dogs develop them too but simply just telling a dog to suddenly change their emotional state doesn't work. You'll likely be adding to the problem as opposed to helping them through their problem.
7 - Make the training VERY easy for them to start with.
Dogs that get excited quickly typically aren't going to be able to focus on things for too long. Don't try to train them in a boring way for a lengthy period of time. Depending on the dog you might even just be able to get a solid 30 seconds of trying before they get overly distracted by a leaf. That's okay. We can persevere with these short sessions before 30 seconds becomes 45 seconds, then 1 minute, then 2 then 5 etc. Make the training fun. Don't stand in front of them commanding them to do behaviours they barely know. Move around with them and play with them.
If you're not sure how this works get a trainer to help you or alternatively we have heaps of video content that will help with this:
8 - Give them outlets for their crazy.
I used to think that with the crazies, I needed to calm them down so they would be less crazy. As the years went on I realised that for some dogs not only was this a really hard and painstakingly slow thing to achieve, it also wasn't very fair to ask of for a lot of them. Instead of focusing on the calm, I think we should be focusing on their desire to do certain things. We can channel their energy into more appropriate and mutually fun things. It's one reason why dog sports exist. You don't have to worry about trophies at all, you can just focus on allowing your dog to do something they find fun that is safe and allows them to practice an ingrained genetic need.
Here's Roo enjoying some scentwork! Check out our video tutorials here: https://www.thinkdog.nz/post/scent-work-step-one
9 - They don't need to go to all the places with you
I used to visualize all the dogs I would have and all the places I would be able to take them until I realised the reality of what a lot of dogs can cope with.
Expecting a 6 month old border collie to calmly walk through a busy environment and then calmly lie down at a busy cafe isn't something I'd expect them to be able to do. And ethically I don't think we should be asking them to be able to do it anyway. especially at that age. If your dog likes being there then great, if they are simply just coping there I would ask 'do they need to be there?' and if not then what is the point?
10 - Accept that you don't have a chilled out cruisy dog.
If you wanted something that didn't give you a bit of a challenge and some work to do a dog was not something you should have decided to bring home. No matter what breed you get, they'll always pose some challenges. But that's okay. There are so many ways we can help train dogs and thanks to the internet we have unlimited supplies of knowledge and content.
Acceptance is a good thing. We may not get the experience we expected, but that's not usually that case with many things. The more we try to mold them into something they are not, the more frustrating it will get for both parties.