One of the most common reasons that dogs are given away is simple behaviour problems. A lot of these behaviours are very natural for dogs, but they just don’t fit in with our modern lives. Paws up, who’s got a pup that barks at the post, jumps up at people, can’t be left alone, or struggles and reacts with new dogs or people?
Dogs have to cope with very different environments to the ones they evolved with over thousands of years. There’s a massive difference between today’s busy urban and suburban environments, compared to even just 100 years ago. Their successful evolution - to avoid being eaten - isn’t necessary any more! But their brains can need help to adapt.
The great news is, there are easy things we can do to help our dogs be less anxious, be more calm, more confident and more optimistic. And all of that leads to a calmer, happier dog and calmer and happier you.
Helping a dog or puppy to be calm more of the time, is a great starting point. A dog that’s feeling calm is a lot less likely to jump up at people, be stressed by new noises or events going on.
Meet Niki French, Owner & Founder of Pup Talk, on-line training community...
My top tips for a calmer dog:
1: Use a lick mat 1-3 times a day.
Licking is naturally very calming. You can use anything spreadable like yoghurt, wet food, coconut oil, dog-safe peanut butter or mashed fruit and veggies.
2: Include natural chews in their daily diet.
Chewing is also very calming and great to use when they need distracting (say when the post is due to be delivered or a visitor is coming round). As a bonus, it helps keep teeth and gums healthy!
3: Ditch the food bowl...
and use their daily food allowance to reward any moments of calm during the day. For instance, spot them laying quietly when you hear a noise outside – calmly reward them with some food.
4: You get more of what you reward.
We tend to ignore dogs when they’re being ‘good’ and this is exactly the right time to reward them. Use some of that daily food throughout the day.
5: Use simple scent games...
with toys or food. Hide something they love in a box, rolled-up towel or even a pile of leaves and encourage them to find it. Dogs’ primary sense is their sense of smell and it’s really effective to get them to use their brain on tasks that are fun AND tiring.
6: Play ‘boundary games’.
This super-simple game teaches your pup to happily go to a specific bed or place, and stay there and chill out. Until you say it’s time to come off the boundary and come and interact with you.
Get started on boundary games, with this mini-workshop video...
Dog and puppy training doesn’t need to be hard work or take hours at a time.