In this blog post I’ll talk about some general tips and tricks to introduce a calm mindset for your dog. Please bare in mind that every case will have to be approached as a individual e.g. if your dog is afraid of bikes specific training will be needed but this information is useful for every dog.
Breaking up exercise throughout the day will mean your dog doesnt get stuck in a pattern of sleeping for long periods and having a large build up of energy
Making sure the structure of your walks are balanced. Are you taking time with your dog to stop and relax? Are they getting the opportunity for a big run if suitable?
Are you providing enough energy for your breed of dog and their age? Or are you providing too much?
Kongs encourage a calm mindset. Read more about this in the enrichment guide and how to stuff a kong blog.
Grooming, touch and physical affection can be something we overlook. Spending 10 minute grooming your dog every day is fantastic for bonding and calming. Just make sure you arent accidentally rewarding undesirable behaviour during the situation.
Anything that involves chewing, licking, smelling are all good techniques when it comes to relaxation. Use these throughout the day and in the situation where you may need a calm dog.
Rewarding relaxing signals:
When a dog does a large body shake it releases muscle tension and relaxes your dog. Your dog will have individual triggers to make them shake. A common one is to actively ruffle the fur on their back as it would whilst they shake. Anytime they do this naturally always make sure to mark and reward.
Learn to read the small signs your dog shows before the become excited or fearful:
There is usually a golden area where you are able to interrupt the undesirable behaviour and encourage your dog to do the better thing. To find this area you should observe what your dog does just before.
Teach tolerance for different mindsets :
Frustration tolerance practice through training will help your dog become more tolerant to stress (even stress due to excitement) in their day to day life. You’ve likely already been practicing these training cues that involve a lot of self control - Leave it, out of sight cue practice (basics of stays and sits), recall away from distractions such as away from a toy you have just thrown.