How to Train High-Energy Dogs to Calm Down
by Geoff Works |
It’s always a pleasant sight seeing your dog showing signs of excitement. No matter how stressful your day is, watching your pet act like a ball of boundless energy jumping up and down is a sight for sore eyes. But is it always a good thing?
Even though most of us interpret this behavior as something cute or endearing, it might actually point to something more serious. In fact, your pet’s over-excitement and hyperactiveness could be a sign of an underlying behavioral disorder. It could be a sign that they lack proper exercise, which could cause harm if it isn’t treated properly.
If you need help on how to calm a dog, we’ve listed some tips below. The proper training can help turn your high-energy dogs into calmer, more obedient pets.
Before engaging your dog in new activities that can help calm its hyperactive attitude, your pet must first learn fundamental exercises that focus on developing obedience.
Clicker training is a great way to start training high-energy dogs. The first step is to get your hands on a clicker, which is a handheld device that makes a clicking sound when a button is pressed.
When you use this device, you can teach your dog that the clicking sound signifies that they’ve done something right that deserves a treat. So every time you click the device, make sure you reward them right after. Clicker training is effective in teaching obedience because it can help enforce positive behavior. For example, you can train your dog to sit or lay down by clicking the device every time they obey your command.
Through this positive reinforcement, your dog will be able to learn that the sound of the click can help train them to show obedience.
Teach to Sit
Sitting is a fundamental command often taught to young dogs. The idea is to teach your dog how to sit by holding up a treat near its nose. Move your hand up over its head so your pet will raise its head to follow the treat.
Once its bottom hits the floor and your dog lands in a sitting position, reward your pooch with the treat.
Teach to Wait
To further reduce over-excitement, your dog should learn the importance of learning to wait. But how do you enforce this behavior?
During meal time, teach your dog to patiently wait to be fed by uttering a “wait” command while you are holding a treat. If your pet can sit or stand calmly as you give them their bowl of food, make sure you reward them or pat them on the head. But once your dog starts moving and gets excited, raise the bowl of food up again and repeat the process.
If the dog is able to wait patiently to be fed, utter other verbal markers like “go” or “OK” to signal so it can move towards the bowl or eat the treat. This method requires a lot of patience, so you need to practice it repeatedly.
Another way to reduce your pet’s over-excitement is to put their brains to work. High energy often translates to a hyperactive imagination, after all. Here are a few exercises you can try to encourage your pet to focus and stimulate its mental development.
Find the treat
You can use your pet’s natural sense of smell to your advantage. Since most dogs love to use their noses, then you can teach them the “Find it” game.
When you play the game, start with small treats. Grab one of the treats before tossing them at a distance and saying, “Find it!” That will be your dog’s cue to find the treat. Repeat several times until your dog is familiar with the exercise.
If you want to make things harder, place the treat in a hidden spot beforehand then issue a command for your dog to find the treat. In turn, it’ll encourage your dog to use its sense of smell to hunt down the treat.
Aside from performing cognitive exercises, you can also train your dog through sports. This will help your active dogs channel their boundless energy into a different, less aggressive activity.
One great outlet that can help channel your hyper dog’s energy is an agility-based exercise. Once your dog has gone through and mastered obedience training, you might want to participate in agility competitions. For example, you can train your dog to perform exercises like jumps, tunnel exercises, weave pole training, and more.
Once your dog is ready, you can create an obstacle course challenge that combines all of the exercises they’ve already learned as a true test of power!
Another option is to train your dogs for a higher level of competition such as field trials. Commonly organized by kennel clubs and organizers, a field trial is a competitive event where dogs compete against one another and vie for the top spot.
It’s up to you to decide what type of skill your dog excels in. For example, a hunting field trial, judges will assess your pet based on their natural abilities such as style, courage, attention, and perseverance. And if you’re going to be participating in the field trial with your dog, you will also be evaluated based on steadiness, control, and coordination.
You can engage your active dogs in nosework to help keep it calm and happy. By doing scent work activities, you can help fuel your dog’s natural desire to hunt.
Scent work can help keep your dogs calm by letting them engage in an activity where they can use their excess energy while exploring.
Nosework is done by hiding various items and training your pet to find them. This activity focuses on stimulating your dogs’ ability in detecting scents.
You can also train your pet to be an earthdog. Learning to be an earthdog will allow your dog to use its natural abilities in hunting prey underground such as badgers, rabbits, and rats.
This type of training involves picking up and tracking the scent of their prey in dark tunnels. Once the prey is located, the dog should be able to return to the owner within a specified period of time. Because this sport involves scenting and burrowing, it can serve as an outlet for your dog’s extra energy.
Encourage Calm Behavior
Sometimes, the best way to train your high-energy dogs to calm down is by keeping them in a calm, submissive state. By rewarding calm behavior and ignoring hyperactive behavior, you can help your dog naturally embrace calmness.
Crates and Pens
Enforcing positive behavior is also possible even when your pet isn’t engaging in exercise. For example, crates and pens are a great way to help your dog channel their energy and be less hyperactive. Crates or pens can function as your dog’s sanctuary where they can stew alone in peace and recharge.
Just make sure that their playpen has enough space for them to sit, stand, and walk around. As its safe space, it can help your dog manage destructive behavior and avoid accidents even when you’re away from home.
Baby Gates and Doors
If you want to contain your dog but don’t want to keep it completely isolated like what happens when using crates and pens, you can use baby gates and doors instead. You can keep your dog involved in your activities but baby gates and doors can restrict access to vulnerable or dangerous areas when it is being hyperactive.
Leashes and tethers are also good management tools to keep your dog from engaging in unwanted behavior. You can practice the "umbilical cord" technique — where you have your pooch permanently leashed to you throughout the day. This technique is useful because you can consistently supervise your pet to reinforce positive behavior.
Choose leashes you can hook or clip to your waist or belt using carabiners. Leashes will keep your dog by your side making your pet incapable of rushing around.
Positive Behavior Correction Pays Off
By applying these exercises and training high-energy dogs on a consistent basis, you can successfully prevent your pet from engaging in unwanted behavior that could cause injuries or aggression. Aside from that, it would also be helpful to seek out your pet’s veterinarian and find out other training methods or regimen for your pet.Ensure that your dog receives the right support so they can avoid activity-related injuries. Browse the Lick Sleeve blog today for more tips and advice.