Whether your pup is a mile-a-minute, hyperactive Energizer battery on four legs or they just can’t handle those car rides or unexpected visitors, getting them to calm down is an invaluable skill. Keeping or getting your dog calm has many benefits, such as preventing possible accidents, fear-related behaviors, and reducing blood pressure. When a dog is going full force, they risk the possibility of running into traffic, disobeying, or otherwise getting hurt. Hyperactivity isn’t only a young dog issue; it can continue well into adult years. Some dog breeds are more energetic than others, so keep that in mind if you’re faced with a choice.
Dogs that are anxious or nervous run the risk of fear-biting or other dog fights, or just going through that terrible nervous feeling that elevates stress and that none of us appreciate. Anxiety can be something that a dog is born with or something that comes on due to an event in their life. Either way, learning how to calm them down will help them feel better.
Provide a Safe Spot
Few things feel better to a dog when they’re overwhelmed with excitement or anxiety than a dark, quiet spot. It helps remove distractions so your dog can focus on the task at hand. It also removes those scary or frightening stimuli to allow heart rates and blood pressures to drop. For dogs that are chronically anxious or hyperactive, try to keep that safe spot the same. Don’t switch it up each time they have to go there or it won’t feel comforting to them. Make it a kennel or a small room that they can access on their own if needed.
There’s a saying. If you want someone to love you forever, buy a dog, feed it and keep it around.
Train Them to Settle and Focus
All dogs perform better when they have a job. Sometimes that job can be as simple as listening and focusing on you. You are also the center of your dog’s universe, so use that to your advantage when trying to calm them down. Dogs that are anxious and those that are energetic can be trained to calm down in the same way.
Firstly, when your dog gets worked up give them a verbal cue that works to both catch their attention and provides them with something to do. That cue can be “sit,” “down,” or even “relax.” You just want to make sure you can use it consistently.
Secondly, use the word until your dog performs the behavior that you want, such as lying down, sitting at your feet, or even just stopping what they are doing and looking at you. You may have to show them what to do the first few times until they get the hang of it.