To have a calm well-behaved dog you can bring anywhere. The best reward is to bring your dog with you. With a calm well-behaved dog you will be less frustrated, and your dog will be happier! Remember, the more strict you are with your dog, the happier you both will be.How do we get there? Learn to communicate better with your dog.
Listen with your eyes. Speak with your face & body, keeping words to a minimum.
- Pack walk – keeping your dog focused on you on the walk.
- Diet of Peace– staying calm so you are not amping your dog up. Be your dog’s valium, not his caffeine!
- Socialization– giving your dog a chance to play with his own kind. It’s selfish for to think that human interaction is all the dog needs.
This is how relaxed your dog should look on the walk:
If your dog is walking around like this without a distraction, when one comes along, it will be harder to get his attention back on you. You will have to use more force.
If your dog is walking around like this when he sees a distraction, he will perk up a bit, but will be easier to get back to relax. You should be able to do just a light squeeze/release to get his attention back.
Start by leashing up your dog (calmly, quietly, keep breathing!. Approach the door & take 3 deep breaths, more if your dog is still wound up. You don’t want your dog charging through the door. he should wait for you to give him permission. The slower you go, the calmer your dog will be, so don’t rush through this step, allow yourself a few extra minutes for this important step until your dog gets the hang of it.
On the walk practice the squeeze/release/feed so your dog isn’t pulling, but focused on you. If your dog is pulling, slow down, squeeze & turn into him (spatial pressure) to slow him down & then feed.
If your dog sees something he wants to pull toward, turn on a dime/feed before he pulls too hard! The calmer & more focused you keep him on the walk, the easier this will be. Do less sooner, rather than more later.
Walk away from the distraction, feed, & when your dog has settled, turn again toward the distraction. Do this several times until you can scoot him past the distraction (then feed) without a strong reaction.
If you have a hyper dog, I recommend a slower walk. The slower walk challenges them more mentally.
If you have a pokey dog that likes to sniff, I recommend a faster walk. It keeps your dog from sniffing and focuses them more on you.
When you come back from the walk, again slow your dog at the door with 3 deep breaths & he needs to give you eye contact (feed) before he comes in. Don’t immediately take off the leash. Take it off slowly & hold the dog still for a few seconds (feed). We don’t want him taking off like a rocket through the house.
Diet of Peace
This is how relaxed your dog should look most of the time: Prevention is the best cure. Keeping your dog in a calmer state gives them peace (as most dogs that come here are either anxious or over-excited). Stray dogs do not have this problem! Dogs have people problems more than people have dog problems! Do your dog a favor and don’t chat away to him. Our voices carry a lot of emotion- tension, excitement or frustration, which just adds to your dog’s problem (anxiety or overexcitement).
You will find your dog will listen more when you do talk, more likely to obey your commands, bark less, jump less, walk nicer on leash, play at a lower intensity level…Your relationship will be so much better when your dog is calm (because you are calm!).
Getting your dog out to make new friends, or at least tolerate other dogs, is crucial to your dog’s state of balance. The 2 most important things your dog can learn from another dog is to back off of a warning growl (not engage or ignore), and to growl (instead of lashing out) -like we tell our kids “use your words not your fists”.
If your dog looks like this & is growling at someone or another dog, stand in front of him, facing away from him so you are “pushing” his threat away, making him feel safe & protected.
Remember not to let your dog make another dog uncomfortable.
If you were talking to someone & they were backing up, you know they do not want to talk to you. If your dog is backing up or making another dog back up, the dog backing up is not happy & could snap.
Pull him back, or even better turn & face him & push him back with your body/attitude. The more you learn to use your body, the less you rely on the leash. And if your dog is the one uncomfortable, push the other dog away or ask the owner to get their dog back. You need to be your dog’s advocate! He will trust you more & be less likely to act out aggressively.
Remember Ziva’s correction from the presentation. She’s only as firm as she has to be, but when the dog isn’t backing off, she steps it up. She corrects the dog UNTIL the dog backs off & goes away. So remember to be gentle if you can be, but as firm as you have to be to get the message across. The dog has to change his mind & give up the fight. (for example if your dog is jumping or pulling, correct until the dog gives up on the jumping, pulling…) One of the two of you is going to give up, make sure it is your dog.