Has your dog learned to do nothing?
To just be calm?
Sitting still and being respectful and quiet is one of the most important concepts to teach a dog, but so many people encourage the opposite.
Think about it.
We’re constantly getting our dogs “hyped up” by talking to them, playing with them, worrying about providing enough “activities” like daycare, running, trips to the dog park, toys, more play time.
Trust me, I’m guilty of this too.
Ever catch yourself thinking anything like this?
Will he be OK while I’m at work?
Does he need more treats in his Kong toy?
Does he need a ‘playdate’ this weekend?
You know what most dogs need?
Some solid down time.
They need to learn that lying down and napping on a dog bed or in a crate is expected of them, without whining and without barking or chewing anything.
They need to learn patience, to pay attention to us, to make eye contact, to fit into our lives.
They need to learn self-control so we can take them more places, so we can trust them to be still and quiet while we take them along to a friend’s house, a picnic or to shop at a pet friendly store.
They need to learn to stay on command and remain staying, with distractions.
They need real exercise.
Yes, believe me, exercise is important and most dogs are not getting enough true exercise either.
But, they need a balance between the two – exercise, followed by time to relax and just be.
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I’ve found that most people think they have a hyper dog, when truly they have an average dog or even a lower-energy dog that’s under-exercised and encouraged to be hyper.
Most of us are doing two things wrong:
1. We’re not providing true exercise, like long walks or runs or hiking every single day.
2. We’re not reinforcing calm behavior. We’re doing the opposite.
How to help a dog be calm
If you want your dog to be calmer, I would work on these five things:
1. Ask yourself if your dog is truly getting the exercise she needs. If not, provide it.
2. Look for ways to reinforce calm behavior vs. crazy behavior. Do you give him attention when he’s lying on his dog bed or when he’s whining and begging for dinner?
3. Go out of your way to practice calming exercises with your dog every day like “down” and “stay” and “watch me.”
4. Don’t worry about filling every single hour of the day with activities for your dog.
5. Teach your dog a phrase that signals play is over such as “That’s enough.” This is what I use to signal to my dog “I’m done throwing your ball. Please leave me alone.” I am serious when I say it. There’s no negotiating, and my dog understands this.
Those are my suggestions for helping a dog become calmer.
How about you?
How have you taught your dogs to chill out?
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