Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tips on making a Dog a Calm Dog

I will eventually be putting these posts on my dog training website, which is still in the works of being put up. In the meantime, I have to put my thoughts on paper--or on the screen, or I will go crazy. People can be so nuts over their dogs. (I don't intend to include that in my dog training website.)

I found on a dog training forum someone who was asking for help for her very hyper 17 week old German Shepherd puppy. After reading through most of the comments (which I thought was good advice), I wanted to add my own right here on my blog, where I can speak more freely.

So the question is: how do you either calm down your dog/or keep your dog from becoming a "hyper dog"?

The answers are pretty simple and straight forward. Just good common sense!

  • Never greet a hyper dog. Ignore his behavior, even if it lasts for minutes to an hour!
  • When the dog finally does calm down, don't ruin it by enthusiastically greeting the dog. Depending on the dogs arousal rate, this will only give him the wrong message that he must be hyper to receive your attention.
  • Speak calmly around your dog.
  • Limit the amount of attention that you give your dog. He does not always need to be petted every time you pass by! Too much affection will decrease any sort of self-discipline that the dog should be practicing.
  • This goes with speaking calmly to your dog, but if you have a reactive dog or a high-arousal dog, try to see if you are being hyper around your dog. Is he feeding off your anxiety or stress? Dogs watch us and react off of the vibes we give.
  • Never open a door to a hyper dog. If you can, try to get him to sit and just calm down first. If he is too hyper to sit, that's ok, just wait it out. This may make your dog a little crazy at first (and you too), so practice this only when you have time to wait for your dog to take the time to calm down. Opening the door when he's calm teaches him that calm behavior gets him outside and hyper behavior does not. (It will take weeks of this training to see the difference but it's worth it.)
On the flip side...

  • Greet your dog when he is being calm. It's ok to greet him long after you came home if it took him forever to calm down. He will still say hello to you.
  • Pet your dog (every so often) when he is laying down and already relaxed. Remember to keep things calm. (I like to give my special face massages when they are calm. It really makes them remember that calm behavior = face massage.)
That's pretty much it! Calmness is the key. I see owners always so hyper around their dogs. They are always reacting. I admit that it's easy to do, but dogs are always reading us--always! They communicate by body language, that is how they read one another, and so that is also how they read

When I was volunteering one day, I once had to deal with a very hyper/nervous dog. All the dogs there are sort of hyper from being kenneled so much, but this one was off the charts. He couldn't stop whining, panting and jumping. I couldn't move around him, much less play with him. He was so distracted by his anxiety that he couldn't focus on anything at all.

At first I tried to calm him down by soothing talk and petting, but this just made him more frantic. This dog was truly stuck in panic mode. So I began to walk around the play area with him, not speaking to him and giving him no eye contact. It took about 10 minutes of his constant whining that never stopped, and jumping at the leash, but eventually, he calmed down and he began to walk quietly beside me. His nervous energy went down from 100% to about 25%. Just from me being calm and quiet.

Have you ever seen your dog watching you? Just staring? He is reading you! Even if you aren't aware of any signals that you are sending, your dog could probably write a book on you.

So if you want your hyper dog to calm down, you have to do it first. If you want to keep your dog calm all the time, try to be calm too. Try to not over-react to things that he does. Scold by the tone of your voice, not by the volume. Silence does wonders in speaking to your dog.

And now, with all this calm talk. I'm going to go to sleep.

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