Training Calmness
Training Calmness

dog water

Why are other dogs splashing in my bath?

And now for a report long overdue …

The Calm Energy clan had an awesome funny & sunny time at Brooklyn Bark‘s 2012 “People & Dog Barbecue & Swim”!

We ate, we threw Kongs, we got licked, we ate more, we shooed dogs out of the humous, we talked, we ate more, we threw frisbees…

…and even learned a little! First James Morrissey pet photographer gave tips and tricks on taking good pics of your pups. I followed him with a talk on how to train your dog to be calm.

Watch a fun montage of photos from the day! (Thanks Sean Sullivan 🙂

Below are the notes on which I based my talk, titled “Training Calmness”. Enjoy!

Training Calmness

PB&DS 2012

Calmness is key to peaceful, social, balanced, problem-free behavior.
Calmness is largely incompatible with problem mindsets or behaviors such as:

  • Anxiety (e.g. separation anxiety)
  • Fear (e.g. of skateboards, or in the car)
  • Aggression (dog-dog, dog-people)

The “How”:

  1. How to treat:  Dog must never snatch from your hand, jump, or even approach, but instead must take treat calmly, allowing your hand to reach all the way to his mouth while he remains sitting/lying down, doing whatever he was previously doing.
  2. Long low tones for praise, acknowledgement of good behavior, “marking” the good behavior. Remember that exciting praise, stimulating pets, play or treats can reward the resulting excited mindset.
  3. Calm or what I call “long” rewards: rawhides, stuffed Kongs, slow bellyrubs, walks. Remember edible treats aren’t the only form of positive reinforcement!

The “When”:

  1. Never give treats when dog is jumping, whining, barking, lunging, pulling, or otherwise exhibiting overexcited “demand behavior”, or you will reinforce that. Instead reward calm, peaceful, non-anxious, non-demanding behaviors (catch them off-guard). A side effect is that they learn to trust, the world becomes a delicious giving source of free happiness instead of them having to crave, demand, and fight for what they want.
  2. Standing > sitting > lying > “flat”. Progression of increasingly calming body positions. (“Flat” = over, on the side, belly up, etc.)

Helpful exercise:  Practice “ramping up” your dog’s energy, then turning it off and calming; repeat. E.g. tug-o-war (don’t worry it’s ok!), then “Leave it!” or “Drop it!”, lie down, calm…then reward again with the game. Balls, frisbee, all the same. Get calmness, then reward with excitement, and repeat.

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