The importance of calm

Calm. A word many high-energy dog owners have almost forgotten can be in the same sentence as the name of their dog and who can blame them if they have never been advised how to teach their dog to be calm?

As a current Border Collie owner & previous owner of herding breeds, this is something I am very familiar with, but once I was taught the importance of reinforcing calmness in my dog everything changed. Lily (my Border Collie) and I were at her very first Puppy class a few years back through Constructive Canines when Laura Purkis (also director of Dog Safe Workplace) taught me one very simple thing: each time Lily lay down and are relaxed, reward her.

As dog owners, rewarding calmness is severely overlooked and especially in our high energy breeds. When you reward a certain behaviour in dogs they tend to want to repeat that behaviour so, when you reward calmness you encourage your dog to have a more calm demeanour and our dear pups can even get to a point where you don't even need to tell them to be calm anymore - they simply just choose to be & stay calm. Rewarding calmness is the best I have ever done for my girl and I am impressed by how often she choose calmness over crazy frenzy, barking at the door and the list goes on.

So, how can you work with your own dog to understand the importance of calm? Start with choosing a medium-value treat* for your dog and reward them when they are settled & calm - they should NOT be focused on the food you're about to give them.

If your dog then gets up and starts following you after you have given your dog the reward for being relaxed; simply ignore them. Once they are settled again you can give them another treat. It's as simple as that! No clicker needed, no high-pitched excitable voice or anything else. Just calmness. From you & from the dog.

What's considered a medium-value treat? It depends on your dog, but generally, they are semi-moist or dry treats your dog wouldn't get with their meal - but given frequently as a treat from day-to-day.

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