Is your dog prone to running all over the house? Have you resorted to leaving her outside, because she’s crazy when you bring her in? You’re definitely not alone! Here are some ideas to try to encourage calm behavior from your dog.
First, make absolutely sure that your dog is getting enough exercise. The bare minimum is two 20-minute exercise periods a day. This does not mean that you have to walk your dog every time. While daily walks are an excellent form of exercise and can help you train your dog to calmly walk with you and obey commands, it’s a good idea to do different types of exercise to keep it fun for both of you. Some different ideas for exercise are agility courses, fetch, go to the dog park, take classes at a local dog training center or shelter, rally, fly ball, or tracking, just to name a few. (Lincoln has two public dog parks. One is just south of 1st and Cornhusker and the other is near Holmes Lake off of 70th St.) Mental stimulation, like that required for many of the above activities, tends to tire them out more quickly, and a tired dog is a happy dog—and a good dog.
Sometimes dogs get very excited by the simple act of being brought in the house. It’s a change of environment and allows her to be with her people again! Please avoid the temptation to leave her outside. Most dogs need their people. This is especially true in some breeds like German Shepherd Dogs and Border Collies as they were bred to work closely with people. Leaving them outside means that they don’t get the attention that they crave and can lead to fence aggression and other bad behaviors. There have also been cases where dogs have been injured, gotten out of or are even stolen from the yard. And it doesn’t solve the excited behavior that resulted in her banishment.
So what do you do? Here is a list of ways to encourage your pup to calm down:
- Avoid the temptation to chase your unruly pup if she dashes around the house; that’s fun!
- Every time that you are about to bring the dog in the house, put a leash and collar on her before bringing her in the house. Supervise her and leave the collar and leash on until she settles down.
- Right when the dog enters the house, take her on a calm tour around the house. Do not let her drag you!
- Teach an alternate behavior, like down-stay on a mat. The mat should be in the room that you are in, and the dog should have toys to occupy her attention.
- Reward calm behavior in the house, and do so often. This can be with a simple pat, a “good dog,” or a treat.
- Provide a variety of toys to chew and toys that require thought. Even daily food can be dispensed from a food-dispensing toy.
- If your dog does something inappropriate, say “eh-eh,” and lead your dog away from the area and back to her mat and give her an appropriate toy.
- Tether your dog near her mat to encourage her to stay put. (Only tether when you’re able to supervise 100% of the time!)
- If your dog won’t settle, consider a short game of fetch or other form of exercise outside.
Remember that training takes TLC: Time, Lots of Patience, and Consistency. Your dog is not trying to make you angry or to spite you. She is simply being a dog and being herself. All dogs, like all children, need guidance to know how you would like them to behave. And they will make mistakes, and it will take time and repetition.