Have you ever been in a panic? Of course, we all have. But thinking back to that moment, did you make clear and rational decisions? For example, you’re running late for work so you rush out the door. While driving, you take more risks like speeding, running stop signs or traffic lights, tailgating other drivers. All in a frenzy to get into work, you’re loudly yelling at other drivers to get out of your way. Knowing they cannot hear a word you’re yelling (in some cases this is a good thing), but you yell all the same. Stuck in traffic, you remember that in your rush to leave you forgot to lock the front door or turn off lights and appliances. Finally at your desk you take a sigh of relief and think to yourself that maybe it’s time to invest in a backup alarm clock. So the next time you forget to charge your phone, the backup is there to make sure this never happens again.
At that moment, the moment you took a breath and calmed down you made a choice to prevent that experience from happening again. What if you could help your dog do the same? What if you could help him/her take a deep breath and calm down?
Whether your dog is anxious, aggressive, or is completely bonkers and overly excited all the time helping them take a deep breath and calm down could change their life (and yours) dramatically. Take a moment and imagine what your dog’s life could be. Imagine the best version of your dog the can see other dogs on leash and not react, the I come home from work and he/she hasn’t completely destroyed everything, the is freaking out at the sight of another person/dog and say I can help my bestie overcome this. I can help them calm down, because you can.
So much of what we do here - and what other trainers who are aware of the value of calmness do as well- is teach impulse control. Using anchoring commands like “place” and “down/stay” with long durations. While also teaching not to pull on leash, not to fly out of crates and doors, waiting for food, and approach all things in a chilled out and relaxed fashion….except of course playtime.
Calmness training has a huge advantage to transforming problem behaviors. A dog that exists in an amped up state of mind makes them challenging to live and work with. This being one of the major reasons we don’t use treats or toys to rehabilitate dogs. We want a calm and relaxed mind to work with, not an edgy and hyper treat or toy focused maniac. And the greatest benefits of all this calmness training instead of excitement is it creates a relationship of leadership with you and your dog. Once they understand you control their behavior, they create new reactions to otherwise stressful or anxious situations.