If you thought teaching your dog to calm down, in any situation was difficult. Think again. DDG is going to lay out the simplest ways to calm any dog. Just when you want a calm dog, it leaps up on the nervous five year old, causing tears and sometimes scratches. So how can you teach a dog to calm down?
Why it’s Important to Keep Your Dog Calm
Any dog owner knows the embarrassment as your excited pooch suddenly shows an embarrassingly obsessive interest in Grandma’s groin. Or won’t let the plumber through the door. For a start, some breeds are just naturally calmer than others. And within the breed, there will be individual differences as well. If you have trained your dog from a puppy, you will clearly find a different experience than if your best friend has come from a local dog rescue.
Given all of the above, there are still things you can do to teach your dog to be calmer:
- COMMON COMMANDS FOR DOGS: Teach your dog the meaning of basic commands – sit, lie, stay etc. Just like with a child – or come to think of it, most adults – you need to reinforce your instructions with rewards. Your dog needs to associate following instructions with rewards. If his mind is focussed on the treat, he is less likely to go into out of control mode. However, make sure that you don’t reward poor behaviour. A confused dog is not a calm dog.
- INSTRUCT IN DIFFERENT SETTINGS: Your dog needs to know that she must calm down outside as well as in the home, so train her in a variety of locations – in the home, in the garden, on the walk, in the car.
- USE IMPULSE CONTROL: This is a useful trick to help you teach a dog to calm down. Make him wait before rushing for his meal, or only give a reward if he pauses before you give it. One common phrase should be used whatever the circumstance, such as saying “Say thanks” before the reward is given. Your dog will learn that he will not receive the treat unless he waits calmly.
- STEADY ON THE WALK: Teach your dog to be calm when on her walk. With a little tug on the lead, accompanied by the word “Steady”, repeated often in the early stages, you will give your pet the heads up that she needs to be on her best behaviour in the coming moments.
- DON’T REWARD BAD BEHAVIOUR: Most dogs are attention seekers. Even negative attention is seen as better than none. Resist the urge to shout at your dog, or handle it when it is over excited. If it is at all possible, and sometimes it is not, ignore the behaviour.
WATCH ME: It is vital to constantly reinforce your commands. Say your dog’s name, followed by “Watch Me”. Speak firmly, a dog who knows the boss will calm down more readily.
Of course, with all the love in the world, and with the best training you can give, some dogs just won’t calm down and stay super excited. In these cases, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. After all, you would go to the vet if your dog was physically ill; emotional problems might also need to be treated. If you find yourself with a pet that simply won’t calm down, barks or whines incessantly, talk with a DDG staff member for recommendations of a fantastic vet in your area.