It’s no secret that dogs, especially youngsters, aren’t always the best at calming themselves down. Maybe your dog gets himself all worked up after a play session, playfully nips and barks to get attention, or does flips while you’re trying to attach the leash. Overly excited behavior can take many forms.
The solution is not to punish the excitement, but rather to teach the dog to perform a polite behavior instead of the excited one. These three training techniques teach your dog to cool his jets.
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Say “Please” for Everything You Want
Your dog’s way of saying “please” is the almighty Sit. Teach your dog that, whenever he wants something, he has to sit for it. This requires him to control his impulses, even when he is excited or frustrated. To get started, make a list of all the things your dog wants from you on a daily basis. We call these “life rewards.” (See the video at the bottom of this article.) Some items may include getting:
What if he doesn’t sit on the first request? No sit, no reward. You’ll turn away, take a few deep breaths, and turn back to your dog to ask again. The moment he sits for the leash, meal, or other life reward, immediately give it to him. Good dog! For your dog to learn to be truly polite in all situations, you will implement this strategy for everything your dog wants, every time.
The Place cue means “go to your mat and stay there until I release you.” If your dog tends to engage in jumping on people, door-dashing, getting underfoot, or countersurfing, Place can keep your dog out of harm’s way. (See it in action here.) In my home, I use this cue when:
To teach the basic level of Place, choose a mat, bed, or towel for your dog to lie on. Follow this training sequence:
Protocol for Relaxation
Dr. Karen Overall has created a practical plan for teaching your dog to remain calm even when you walk away, answer the door, or do a number of other exciting activities. And it’s free to read or download here!
The Protocol for Relaxation is a 15-day program, though you can go at your dog’s pace. It lays out very specific instructions for how to build your dog’s impulse control even for long durations, at long distances, and in the presence of distractions. Dr. Overall wrote it so that anyone, not just experienced trainers, can implement the protocol.
Learning to chill is one of the most important life skills a dog can acquire. You'll be greatly rewarded when you put in the time to teach your dog the polite way to interact with everything and everyone in his daily life.
This article originally ran here on petguide.com.
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Kate is a certified dog behavior consultant, certified dog trainer, certified Fear Free professional, certified dog parkour instructor, and award-winning author.
The views expressed on this website belong to Kate Naito and may not reflect the views of the agencies with which she trains.