(by Ana Grimh, CPDT-KA)
One of the reasons I love my dogs is their general excitement and enthusiasm for everything. However, there are times, and I don’t think I’m alone on this, where I would like for them to just calm down and relax. Even better, it would be awesome for them to do this when I ask!
Impossible, you say? Well, in our classes, we show people how painless this process is. You can also try it at home, and here is how:
1. After having a brief play session, let your dog calm a bit.
2. Then, sit down with your dog, and pet him/her with long, full-body strokes. The full-body strokes are more calming to our dogs than patting.
3. When your dog offers a calmer behavior, such as lying down, say your marker word (in a quiet, soothing voice).
4. In a few repetitions, you can include “settle” as you sit down with your dog. Continue to look for and reward calm/quiet behaviors – relaxed ears/mouth, very little body movement, etc.
5. Eventually, you will have a dog who understands that “settle” means to relax, and you can ask him/her to offer it!
Once your dog is picking it up at home, try it at the vet, pet store, etc! Remember, reward your dog for quiet and calm behaviors, and in no time, your dog will offer those behaviors more often! To practice this in a classroom setting, check out our schedule – we would love to see you soon!