In this post I’m going to share five simple things that you can do
everyday to help you reduce many unwanted behaviours, promote calmness and make
your dog feel pawsome!
Do you have a dog that is bouncing off the walls with over-excitement? What about a dog that barks at everything little thing? Maybe your dog is switched-on 24 hours a day and struggles to be calm? Or a dog that jumps up like a jack-in-the-box?
If you experience these sorts of challenges with your dog it’s more than likely that they are operating in a state of over-arousal. Dogs in this state usually have a full-to-overflowing stress bucket that keeps getting topped-up and that never really empties.
This is generally not a happy place to be for our dogs, and it’s up to
us to ensure that they are given the chance to decompress, relax and empty
their stress buckets everyday! Doing
these five things will help you with this, and you will see a positive
difference in your dog and their behaviour:
1) Allow your dog to engage in natural doggy behaviour
Build in regular opportunities throughout their day for enrichment activities that allow them to engage in natural and rewarding doggy behaviours in an appropriate way. Depending on what your dog enjoys these might include: chasing, sniffing, chewing, licking, foraging, scavenging, searching and digging!
When you allow your dog to engage in these
behaviours, you are helping them to be emotionally and mentally satisfied. Some
of these behaviours are also great for calming a dog and giving them something
positive to focus on. They also trigger chemical responses in the brain that
make your dog feel great!
2) Ditch their dinner bowl and try interactive feeding instead
Use their daily food allowance to give your dog opportunities to sniff, search, lick, forage, problem solve and learn. You could use the food as rewards in training, in sniffing games, lick mats, Kongs and puzzle toys. Take care not to make things too challenging or cause frustration for your dog. Include interactive feeding everyday, to provide calming activities that help your dog self-soothe and build up happy alone time, optimism, and confidence. Believe it or not, 10 minutes of this sort of activity is as tiring as a 30-minute walk!
Unwanted behaviours are often linked to being
bored or under stimulated, and therefore by giving them lots of outlets for
things they enjoy and find rewarding will almost certainly have a positive
impact and help reduce some of the stuff you don't like. Remember your dog is
less likely to engage in unwanted behaviour when they are calm, tired and
Scattering your dog's dinner in a scatter-patch on the floor (or on a mat or towel) is quick and easy, and is also a lovely calming activity for pups and dogs. It has so many positive benefits including:
· Enabling natural foraging behaviour
· Using your dog's mind and their nose
· Building up frustration tolerance and confidence
· Helping to relax your dog, settling them and reducing arousal levels
· Occupying your dog with a "job"
· Preventing boredom related behaviours
· Releasing feel good chemicals in their brain
them something positive to focus on and the opportunity to succeed.
4) Catch your dog when they are doing “good stuff”
Catch your dog when they are doing something
you like and look out for them making good choices and calmness throughout the
day. Reward, don't ignore! Be proactive
every day and make sure that you reward these things frequently. By doing this your dog learning which
behaviours get a pay-out and this means they are more likely to make the good
Make sure that your dog is getting plenty of sleep, rest and lots of opportunities for calming activities to empty their bucket and lower arousal levels. Build in more downtime, and time for bucket emptying, especially when they have had a lot of excitement and arousal levels have been raised. Don't underestimate the importance of sleep and rest in reducing unwanted behaviours and in having a calmer and happier dog!And there you have it, five little things you can do that will have a really big impact on your dog and their behaviour! Subscribe to The Happy Pack and get your free A to Z of How To Have A Happy Puppy Or Dog download, with lots more of our top tips for a calmer, happier and better-behaved dog.