When people seek out dog training, they have specific goals in mind. They might tell me they want their dog to stop jumping on people, not nipping the kids, come when called, not pull on the leash, be more friendly to other dogs or people or be less reactive. Or It might be described as categories of problems like manners or obedience.
There are things they want their dog to stop doing. One of the things that I get to witness as they train their dog is the process of them realizing that it’s not just about teaching their dog not to do naughty things anymore. It’s about teaching a different state of mind.
It’s a concept that the dog needs to understand, like calmness, confidence., impulse control.
I had a class this morning. We have some students, and these are students with dogs that do have emotion-based issues. But I see this in all the programs that I teach. In class, I saw people changing from the idea of stopping misbehavior and to “oh my gosh, my dog can be calm under this set of circumstances.” It’s not just about the don’t do this. Be in this emotional state instead. That realization is a beautiful thing to watch.
So calmness training is a big deal, a super big deal. I love teaching about calmness training. As many of you already know, I have some tips on calmness training. It’s free, seven days of calmness training tips.
Successful calmness training requires selecting strategies from three different main categories.
One category reduces the dog’s overall stress because, like us, dogs have this buildup of stress in their lives. Events are taking place in their lives that make it so that they’re stressed. As much as possible, we want to start preventing those stressful events because those stressful events are leading to misbehavior. Stressful events could produce excitability, or they could create a dog shuts down. But typically, it’s the excitability that’s getting them in trouble.
And we want to select strategies that are going to reduce their overall stress. And there’s a lot of different strategies that you can choose. We also want to teach calmness as a concept. We want to play games that teach the dog that defaulting to calmness during its regular daily life and under specific events is to their advantage. Finally, we want to make sure the dog is getting adequate rest. Because a lot of dogs are overstimulated, they are hypervigilant. They’re constantly on the lookout for different things in their environment that they can playoff. I would consider them a bit of an adrenaline junkie, just waiting for that next rush. And so we want to make sure that they have the opportunity to have good deep rest regularly.
If you have not yet downloaded the seven Free days of calmness tips, click this link to access them. And make sure you are selecting items from each of those three categories to help make it so that your dog can be calmer in its daily life plus during specific events.