There are various dog breeds; some are naturally calm, while others are all energy and excitement. Although it’s always great to have an energetic dog in the house, excessive energy can translate to behavioral problems. At K-9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore, we have seen that parents with high-energy dogs can have a tough time getting their pets to follow instructions, learn good habits, and calm down.
What Is the Best Way to Teach Your Dog To Be Calm?
If you are having a tough time getting your pet to behave well, you must teach your dog to be calm. It will help create a more conducive living environment in your home for you and your furry friend. Here are some pointers that will help you do this.
- Reward Calm Behavior
This strategy involves rewarding your dog for various behaviors, including not barking, not being over-excitable or staring at you, etc. Take every opportunity to reward your pet, and this is how you should go about it:
- Sit down on a chair quietly. Place a blanket on the floor and hold your dog on a lead. Instruct and reward her for sitting down on the blanket.
- Do not talk to your pet during this time and let your actions speak rather than words.
- Change the reward pattern and slowly move onto rewarding more relaxed behaviors.
- Every dog is different, and there is no set schedule to do this. Some dogs are more rambunctious. They will take longer to calm down and do your bidding while others will make quick progress. Therefore, you will have to judge what pace to maintain and get them to calm down.
- Slowly, transition to rewarding specific relaxation signs such as head resting, sighing, and weight-shifting.
- Some dogs will progress slowly, and you will notice them struggling when learning to stop staring or stop pulling on their lead.
- If you find your dog takes much longer to learn these behaviors, reduce the pace and reward them when they sniff their blanket, disengage from people, or stand quietly.
- Focus on how much your dog enjoys settling when dozing or enjoying their chews and toys.
- Give Your Dog Regular Breaks From Exercising Or Playing
A healthy and happy dog needs adequate amounts of play and exercise time, and when their energy is spent, they will ultimately calm down as well. However, excessive exercise or playtime can make your dog very excitable. Some things you must do to avoid this include:
- When you are out for a walk/jog with your dog in tow or playing catch with him, make sure he also gets some time to calm down intermittently.
- There is no set break timeframe during playtime. However, you must monitor your dog closely and if you find that he is getting hyperactive or overexcited, take a short break.
- Reward your dog for the time he has settled down and increase this time slowly.
- Once your pet has relaxed, increase the time they need to be settled to get a reward from you. You can build up this timeframe gradually by a few seconds when you take breaks during training sessions.
- Include Distractions
This is how you can include distractions as a form of training your dog to calm down:
- Build distractions slowly by making your dog settle and calm down in busy spaces.
- If you are training your dog at home, you can ask a family member or friend to create a distraction by simply walking past. Ask them to create high-activity distractions, such as asking them to skip, jump, or sweep the floor.
- If you notice your dog getting up or becoming unsettled during this time, do not pay any attention to her. Give her some time to settle before you reward her.
- If she continues to be frisky and excited, move a distance away from the distraction. Alternatively, ask your helper to tone down the activity to make it less interesting to your pet.
- You might be tempted to tell your dog what to do during this training session, but you must resist doing so. The objective is for her to learn to relax and be calm. In this strategy, your dog needs to learn to settle without getting any specific instructions from you.
- Once you notice that your dog is relaxing, shifting her weight, and getting the hang of it, you can remove the lead and start practicing with her again. There will be times when your pet will be off or on lead, and you need to teach him skills for various situations.
- Clicker Training
If you have never used a clicker before, you should try it. When your dog is boisterous, it helps you click a couple of seconds of calm, after which you can give her a treat. However, the clicker technique works only if you do it right. You need to click-treat, click-treat at least ten times, so your dog recognizes he will get a treat every time you click. You don’t have to reinforce any other behavior while you are clicker training your dog.
Once he gets conditioned to it, you can use this technique frequently to identify the behaviors or skills you want. So, when you are training your dog to calm down, you can click and treat once he becomes less excited and settles. If you want him to stop jumping, click the minute your dog’s legs are on the ground and give him a treat.
All of these methods discussed above are forms of positive reinforcement and work far better than other techniques. Consult with animal behavioral experts and get their input on the best ways to go about teaching your dog to be calm.
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