For many people, all dogs seem to be rowdy and difficult to control. But, that’s not always the case. Just like children, pet dogs require rearing, too. You can even argue that dogs are much harder to raise.
While this may be true, all it takes is patience and understanding on your part. Right now, what’s important for you to know is – Yes, it’s possible to raise a calm dog.
Also, it’s important to train them early on because, after 2 to 3 years, training might be more difficult.
Is it the breed, or is it just my dog?
Yes and no. Go on an online search, and you’ll find a lot of breeds that make it to the “Top Calmest” lists.
Among these are the Tibetan Spaniel, Bassett Hound, French Bulldog – all with the ability to maintain a calm composure in many situations.
However, you will find that this isn’t 100% accurate. Part of a dog’s temperament or personality is derived from how he was brought up. There are some naughty Bassett Hounds, just like how there are quiet and calm Labrador Retrievers.
A short answer would be it could be both – a dog’s personality is one part his breed, and all the rest is everything else that makes up his whole being.
What are tips for raising a calm dog?
While some dog owners would prefer their furry friends to be calm throughout most of the day, this expectation is rather unfair for dogs. You cannot expect them to stay put every minute of the day.
Here are a few tips and recommendations for you to calm your dog:
- Do not encourage excitement.
A nervous dog does not need any more excitement. For instance, the moment you get home, your dog is probably jumping up and down, barking loudly, or maybe even running around the room.
Do not indulge this kind of behaviour. Instead, wait for him to calm down before greeting him or playing with him. Otherwise, you will have a harder time trying to calm him down.
- Use a low voice when speaking to him.
It isn’t so much the word you use, but the tone in which you say them. Dogs probably don’t understand the words you are saying, which is why they rely on the tone of their owner’s voices.
As if talking to a child, speak kindly and slowly to get his attention and to encourage him to act the way you want. You can also use subtle gestures, not gruff hand movements you use when he behaves badly.
- Reinforce good behaviour.
If your dog is doing something you would like to encourage, make sure to reward him with treats, praise, or even a pat on the head.
For example, if he is calmly lying down on your feet, speak to him and pet him softly. You can even add a bonus treat if he behaves that way in front of other people and dogs.
- Practice the ‘lie down’ command.
Make sure your dog masters this command if you want a calm and quiet house. Try this first when you two are alone, and the house is quiet. Once he has mastered this, try the trick out when you have visitors around.
- Play with him when he is calm.
If you start a training routine while he’s nervous, your dog will think that this is the behaviour he must follow. So as not to confuse him, enforce the training process while he’s calm.
- Learn to understand your dog.
All dogs are different, but what makes them all the same is their fear of loud noises. If they get startled and start acting rowdy after hearing thunder, don’t scold them. Instead, comfort them and stay with them.
Is my old dog too old to be trained?
Although a dog is never too old to be trained, it can get quite difficult with age. A possible exception to the rule would probably be Labrador service dogs.
In their first eighteen months, these dogs run around freely; by one and ½ years, they’re off to training.
Despite their initial behaviour, these Labradors could be trained to be very quiet and relaxed. All they need is structured and consistent training.
The same goes for older and even stubborn dogs. A little patience and perseverance will go a long way in training them.
Will exercise help in making my dog calm?
Exercise has a lot to do with your dog’s energy levels, especially if you haven’t taken him for a walk in a while. It’s going to be very hard for your dog to contain all that excitement, so he’ll probably lash out by running around the house.
A dog given constant physical exercise will begin to expect it at some point of the day. He will then be more relaxed and quieter at other times. Also, once your dog is tired from all the exercise, he will be calmer afterwards.
Playing mind games with your dog will also tire him out. Twenty minutes of brain exercise is already the equivalent of an hour of physical exercise.
Simply changing to a puzzle feeder will have a significant impact on your dog’s energy levels.
Can I use crates or playpens to train my dog to be calmer?
Ironically, leaving your dog in crates and playpens is effective, especially if you cannot constantly supervise him. Take note of the following instances wherein using crates if advisable:
- If you can still give your dog enough exercise and social time aside from his time in the crate or pen
- If your dog has adapted well to being inside the crate
- If you aren’t out for a long time – puppies can manage to be alone for no longer than an hour, while you can leave adult dogs for up to eight hours
There are a lot of options available in training your dog. You can use a combination of training, exercise, and even playtime – this will depend on where your dog will respond best.