How to get an active dog to calm down
Most of us have had active dogs at some point. Getting them calm down is not as easy as “just give them more exercise.” That is only part of the equation. I’ll share my tips below, and then I’d love to hear your ideas on how to get an active dog to calm down.
Tips to get an active dog to calm down
1. Lots of walking throughout the week.
It’s not about one long walk on Friday. The dog will be wild again by Saturday morning. It’s about planning a long walk every single day. If your dog is hyper, I recommend a 60-minute walk with him every morning and another 20-minute walk in the evening whenever possible. You will miss some days, but shoot for longer walks, more often. Running with a dog is even better. If you don’t have the time to exercise your dog, consider hiring someone.
2. Work your dog’s mind.
A mental workout can do more to tire out some dogs than a physical workout. Look for ways to mentally challenge your dog every single day for at least five minutes – preferably three or four five-minute sessions throughout the day. You can work your dog’s mind by:
- visiting new places
- walking with other dogs
- working on obedience training
- feeding your dog from puzzle-type toys instead of bowls
- having him wear a dog backpack on walks
3. Sign up for an obedience class.
This is an easy way to work your dog’s mind while teaching him to be calm around other dogs. My own dog will be tired after a walk, but after an obedience class he comes home and crashes.
4. Teach your dog to be comfortable doing nothing.
If you have an over excited dog, you’re probably always looking for ways to keep him more active. Really, one of the best things to teach him is how to lie around and do nothing. There are different ways you can do this such as teaching the dog to lie quietly in a kennel with a chew toy or tethering the dog across the room and encouraging him to lie on his bed.
It’s also important for every dog to learn how to stay on command for long periods. It’s reasonable for every dog to learn to stay on command and remain staying for up to a half-hour in the house with no distractions. You’ll have to start with just 30 seconds or so, and build from there. Dogs with a higher level of obedience will also have more self-control, allowing them to be more relaxed while doing nothing.
5. Time to run off leash.
Most dogs benefit from a good off-leash run at least a few times per week. This might actually make your dog seem more energetic because of the initial excitement, but overall it should help him get rid of pent-up energy. Depending on your dog, you may be able to just let him run off leash in the country or at a dog park. If neither of these are an option, the next best thing is to allow the dog to run on a 50-foot rope. When you use a long rope, you may be able to allow the dog to drag the rope around, or you may have to hold onto the rope (where gloves!).