An important skill for our young Service Dogs in Training (SDiT) is for them to be able to calm down, or any dog really. Sadly though not all of our dogs know how to do this, and there is one major reason why because of us humans.
See we view the amount of energy that our dogs have as being way over the top and we have not given them anything to do with that energy, so when they are just doing what comes naturally to them we see them as being out of control. The common way of dealing with an out of control dog is to put them in the crate or outside. This does them out of your hair, but it does not teach them how to behave.
We have to give our dogs something to actually do with all that energy. The best way to deal with that is to go out and exercise our dogs. It’s a good rule of thumb to exercise our dogs for about 1-2 hours a day. Going out on a good walk helps a lot, but there are different types of walks. There is an exercise walk where we are trying to just burn off energy, and an enrichment walk where we go out and encourage our dogs to just do their thing, sniff their hearts out. Then we have a training walk, where we are out for the sole purpose of training. You might be working on Leash skills, or Leave it, or even Attention with movements.
Brain games are a good thing to do with your dog to help them burn mental energy which is super important as well. A mentally drained dog is a very tired dog which makes a very happy pet parent!!! Think about how you feel after spending an hour in a job interview.
Some brain games:
Find the treat – you hold a treat in one of your hands and let your dog try to pick the hand that the treat is in.
Food Toys – Make your dogs play with toys that make them use their feet and their brain, to bat a toy around and work out how to get food out of it.
Tug Tethers – Do you have a dog that loves to play tug? There are Tug Tethers that you can get to help them get that energy out while playing with the toy. There are even smaller tethers for inside as well.
Flirt Poles – Do you have a dog that would rather chase a toy while playing with you? Yadi LOVES his flirt pole. I swing the toy around and he chases it.
One of my favorite training options is working on teaching the Really Real Relaxation Protocols by Suzanne Clothier. These protocols teach us how to teach our dogs to relax on their own, not because we are constantly telling them to.
If we don’t work with our dogs on the problems we are having with them, they will not learn how to deal with the issues. We like to think of our dogs as toddlers, if we don’t give them the skills to learn how to handle problems or situations that arise in their environment in life, can we really blame them for falling back on their instincts?
So when your pup is running around acting like a fool, grabbing stuff off the counters, or stealing your shoes grab some of their food, or some treats and start training with them.
If they are jumping on the furniture, teach them off or to relax on the floor at your feet.
If they are grabbing stuff off the counters start working on leave it on the counter. Same thing with your shoes.
If they are just running around going crazy, taking them out on a walk and exercise some of that energy.
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