Remain Calm!

Dog Training - Calm Sit

If you’re like many people with pets, me included, we love to take their furry family member with us places.  Truth be told, a lot of places welcome well behaved pets.  Sometimes when we take our pets places they can get a little excited in an over stimulating atmosphere and we need them to settle down and mind their manners.  Whether you’re trying to talk to someone you’ve met on the street or trying to enjoy a sit down lunch outside your favorite dog friendly dive, training the Calm/Settle behavior will come in handy.

HOW–

  1. In a standing position, step on the leash with your foot, if you have a larger dog you may use both feet if needed,  hold the leash in a hand as well so as not to lose control if something should distract the dog. Give your dog just enough slack that he can sit or lie down if he wishes– but not enough to allow jumping.
  2. Stand, or you may even Sit if needed, quietly while ignoring the dog as long as he is seeking attention.  Attention seeking behaviors would be nudging, pawing, whining, barking and pulling etc.  Ignoring means no petting, no eye contact, & no talking.  Any attention, even if negative, is still attention which is what he’s after at that point, giving in will make it harder to stop the undesired behavior.
  3. dog sitOnce he is still, you can try stroking him with long slow pets as a small reward for a the correct behavior.
  4. If your dog returns to trying to get your attention with whining, barking or trying to jump on you, ignore him again until he settles back down—then reward the quiet, wanted behavior with low key praise.  Low key praise is keeping a soft tone when speaking and slow movements.
  5. Repeat for about 15 minutes, it’s good to keep training times short, and give your dog a play break, then resume until your dog starts to settle down as soon as you put your foot on his leash; now begin adding your word, I use “Settle”, right before you step on his leash to teach him the command for this good dog behavior.

Note:
If your dog is doing an undesirable behavior and it gets a reaction from you, it is getting reinforced. Even if the reaction is negative, it’s still getting your attention and you are reacting.  When walking your dog, start ignoring his restless behavior and praise him when he’s not begging for your attention.  Most people don’t realize they are reinforcing the behaviors they are trying so hard to get rid of.

This is a training exercise that’s easy to practice anywhere!  Don’t allow your dog to begin showing unwanted behaviors such as jumping, pulling, pacing etc. you are trying to prevent these behaviors from becoming a horrible habit and more difficult to eliminate. By enforcing and rewarding a Sit or Down while remaining calm you are slowly showing him what he should be doing instead of the undesired behavior, slowly replacing the unwanted behavior. Eventually, the goal is your dog will learn when he’s expected to be quiet and not get overly excited or out of control, leaving you free to complete your task.

Training Tips:
A dog can be easily excited so it’s important you remain calm.  Let the calmness trickle down the lead into your dog, as they’ll read your emotions a lot easier than you think they will and respond how they deem fit.  A couple deep breaths to gather yourself and remaining calm will help him become calm and successful!

photo credit: red white black via photopin (license)

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