LOTS of dogs (and especially puppies) find being relaxed and calm quite a challenging concept!
Yes, they have lots of energy, but often they also just find life really EXCITING! Something as simple as a leaf blowing in the wind can be highly stimulating for some dogs as this little chap is demonstrating for us here…..
So how do we create a calmer way of life for our furry friends?
Yes, they need exercise (try to keep to 5 mins for every month of age if you have a puppy) and yes they need play but they also need you to TEACH them how to be calm. Check out our 8 top tips below and look out for your opportunity to get a free cheat sheet!
1. Control their environment – we can’t expect doggo to be calm when family members are shouting at the football, kids are playing loudly or your other dog is barking.
2. Train a calm space – this leads nicely on from tip one. Have a couple of spaces in the house that are calm, safe places for your pup to rest. This might be their crate, bed or just a blanket in the corner of a room. When they are in this place give them a nice stuffed kong or chewy so they can relax. Don’t use this area as a punishment and don’t train or play with them here. It’s just for rest.
3. Chewing – as above, chewing is great for relaxation. The act of chewing reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which is often increased when dogs are over excited or anxious. Chewing is also tiring so doggo may fall straight asleep when finished!
4. The Breathe & Stroke trick – Sometimes it can take a while to bring a dog down from extreme excitement but the breathe & stroke trick can help. Try sitting next your pup or with them between your legs and gently stroke the length of their side repeatedly. As you are doing this take some deep breaths and breathe out long and loud (almost like a sigh).
5. Doggie Massage – Dogs can benefit from massage in the same way that humans can and you don’t need to be an expert masseuse to start! Gently use two fingers of each hand to massage your dog’s shoulders and sides, working your way down their body. Stay away from the spine and tail and only do so if you dog is happy being handled.
6. Reward great decisions – There will be times during the day when your dog lies down and relaxes. Reward their great decision! When you see your dog lie down, calmly walk over, quietly praise and put a piece of food on the floor by their nose as a reward, then walk away. Your pup will soon learn that lying down means good things happen!
7. Practice in different places – Do you take your dog to the park? The pub? The vet? A friend’s house? Reward great choices in those places too. Go equipped with a kong or chewie and reward when they demonstrate calm behaviour.
8. Set them up to succeed! – Don’t take things too fast and don’t expect your dog be calm in situations that you know are highly exciting or anxiety provoking for them. Either avoid those situations or go prepared with the tips above. Keep training sessions short and most of all positive. Staying calm should be just as rewarding to your dog as being excited.
Bonus Fact: All of these tips also help to promote your dog’s confidence and independence because over time they learn to settle themselves without as much input from you.