One of the biggest struggles that pet owners face when trying to train a dog is the tendency towards excitability, especially if the dog is a puppy or a hyperactive breed. Simple daily tasks, such as setting down a bowl of food or grabbing the leash to go for a walk can result in a dog turning into a whirlwind of energy, knocking over everything in his or her path. The trick to training this type of dogs is to promote calm focus, as described below.
What is Calm Focus?
Calm focus is when your dog understands that nothing good will happen (i.e. the bowl of food being set down, the leash being attached to the collar, etc.) until calm emotions are displayed. A dog displaying calm focus will have “four on the floor” (meaning all four paws on the ground) and will be looking at the owner for guidance on what to do next.
Why is Calm Focus Important?
Not only is calm focus important for keeping your home from becoming a path of destruction whenever meal or exercise time rolls around, but it helps your dog make good decisions on his or her own. When your dog actively engages in calm focus, he or she knows that a rewards is on its way, whether the reward is a meal or time spent with a favorite human. Calm focus teaches a dog to want to behave well, rather than fear misbehaving out of avoidance of punishment. A dog that aims to please is ultimately a better companion than a dog that fears its owner. A second reason calm focus is important is because it places the owner in the position of alpha. When your dog understands that a reward is received from you on the basis of its own behavior, your pup view you with a new respect.
How can I Teach my dog Calm Focus?
Teaching calm focus is very easy, especially for dogs that are food, attention, or toy motivated. The first aspect is to teach your dog to focus his or her eyes on you. To do so, simply get your dog’s attention by saying its name and then give your dog a treat as soon as he or she looks at your face. Over time, gradually build up the amount of time you wait before giving your dog a treat, in order to train your pup to wait for your next command.
Next, practice the principle that “nothing in life is free” by asking your dog to perform a command during every interaction. For instance, ask your dog to sit down before you set down the food bowl. If your dog jumps instead, simply turn around and walk away. Your pet will quickly learn that jumping is inappropriate behavior. The same principle applies to everything else your dog may see as a reward, such as being let outside, being given a treat, or even having a favorite toy thrown for fetch.
Featured image credit : CasualClicks