Teaching Your Hyper Dog to Settle

  • By Kathy McRoberts
  • 05 Jan, 2011

Do you own a dog that never stops moving, jumping, squirming, running, and playing? And never seems satisfied to sit still with you? Is he making your life a nightmare? Then you need to read this.

Typically, the most hyper and active dog breeds are the working dogs. Hunting and herding dogs such as the spaniels, terriers, retrievers. This includes Jack Russell Terriers, Labs, Australian Shepherds, etc. They are bred with a job to do, and will never be content being a couch potato.

The number one rule of owning an active breed... EXERCISE, and plenty of it. You will never be able to change the dog’s need to be active, so you need to fulfill it somehow. This may mean daily long walks, running and playing in the yard, treadmill, whatever. It is imperative that you drain their energy before any other training will be successful. There is an article on this site about   dog sports and activities . Most active dogs enjoy chasing a ball or Frisbee, or sports like agility. Perhaps even rollerblading, biking, hiking, or even just running in the park. Find what works for you and your lifestyle and implement it. I take my chocolate lab out twice a day, either to run and play Frisbee in the yard or to take a nice long walk in the neighborhood, and he also uses the treadmill and plays with the neighbor’s dog. If you can’t commit to exercising your dog somehow every day, then an active breed may not be the right choice for you.

What NOT to do with a hyper dog…

1. Yell at them to settle down. Raising your voice or becoming frustrated and stressed out will only fuel their excitement more.

2. Lock them in their crate as punishment, or confine them outside or in a room all alone. Again, this will only make it worse.

So once your dog has had his daily exercise and it’s time to wind down and be quiet, how do you get him to do it? Teach him the “Settle” command. It’s really pretty easy. This command could quite possibly save his life. I have heard far too many stories of people who acquire a dog before doing their research on the breed, only to discover how hyper and active the dog is. They don’t know how to handle it and it becomes a problem for their life, so the dog ultimately ends up going either to a new owner or back to the shelter. This saddens me because it is never the dog’s fault and until someone learns how to deal with the active needs of the dog, he will never have a good life.

Teaching your dog to Settle on command is easy and fun, for both you and your dog. If you can teach him any cute trick, you can teach him this.

Start out by supplying yourself with a handful of treats. Get on the floor and sit next to your dog while he lays next to you. If yours is like mine, the squirming and squiggling will already begin. With one hand, gently hold him in place and place your other hand on the dog somewhere. You can pet or gently massage. Remain very calm and speak in a calm, slow voice. Say “Settle”. Then wait. The very second he stops moving and lays still, say something like “Good boy!” or “Yes!” and give him a treat (calmly). Do it again. Continue to do this over and over. Maybe gently push his head down on your lap as you say “Settle”. Remember to remain calm and patient through the whole process, you want to convey very calm and quiet energy at this point, since dogs tend to take their cue from us and our behavior. It may be tough at first, but take a deep breath and be patient. Never get frustrated. Your goal is for him to stop moving when you say "Settle".

Repeat this over and over two or three times a day for 5-10 minutes at a time until he catches on that he will get a reward by simply relaxing and being still. You can do this while watching TV. After a couple days begin holding a paw or examining his ears, or lifting his lips to look at his teeth, while saying “Settle” very calmly, and remember to get happy and reward every time he relaxes and allows you to.

It shouldn’t take long for your dog to make the connection between “Settle” and being still. Once you feel he’s got the idea while sitting on the floor, try this next step, this is where it become like a game and is really fun for your dog.

While standing, get your dog really wound up by playing tug or just being excited and crazy with him. Then stop movement quickly and say “Settle”. If he stops playing too and looks at you, whoohoo!, praise and reward! Then get going again and get crazy with him. It’s kind of like the old Simon Says game if you remember that (I’m probably dating myself here). The game is that at any moment during the fun you might freeze and say “Settle” and he is to stop also, then he gets the reward. It took my crazy, hyperactive dog about a week to fully grasp the Settle command once we started this game. He will immediately stop, sit and drop what is in his mouth, looking at me for the reward.

Begin using “Settle” throughout your daily routine, any time you want him to be still. In the presence of other people, when jumping on you, whatever. Just continue using it and be sure to reward with either a treat or an enthusiastic “Good Boy!” every time. Or “Good Settle!” I often say “Good Settle” even at random times when he is at rest to reinforce it.

My dog had a severe excitement issue when getting in and out of the car, and nothing I tried was working until I taught him to Settle. Now he will calm down and sit quietly in the car if I say "Settle" (most of the time - it's a work in progress). And the entire time he is still I reinforce by quietly telling him "That's a good Settle", and "Good Boy".

Teaching your dog to Settle can be valuable for many, many situations, even if you don’t have a particularly hyper dog. For example, when going to the groomer or vet, if you want to trim his nails or examine his ears, in the car, greeting visitors at the front door, or even in a medical emergency. In my opinion, this is one of the most important of all commands.

First and foremost, be sure to provide ample time for your dog to drain his or her energy, and then teach them to “Settle” on command, and your life will be so much more peaceful.

Originally compiled by Kathy McRoberts on Jan. 2, 2011

Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

By West Chester Pet Resort & Spa 20 Jun, 2017
Now that summer is just around the corner, family vacations are about to be in full swing. While traveling with your pet certainly has its benefits, there are things that you need to know before jet-setting with Fluffy in tow.

First and foremost, having your pet as your co-pilot completely alleviates the worry of who is going to care for them while you're away. This question is always an anxiety for pet owners. The option of traveling with them is especially beneficial if your pet has behavioral issues such as separation anxiety.

Crating your pet while driving to your destination is never a bad option. They're confined and safe, and you as the driver are less distracted. Just be sure to remove collars and leashes to prevent a strangling incident and keep the air flow on them.

If your pet has never been crated, you can find a great video here  by "Dog Guru" Cesar Milan on tome tips and tricks to crate training.

While the car is in motion, feeding your dog is one big "Don't!" If you are on an extended road trip and your pet needs a meal, the next time you stop, feed a small snack- preferably high in protein. And remember to never leave your furry friend in the car, especially during these warm months!

Now, traveling with your pet in an airplane is a much more complicated process as you will more than likely want to book a direct flight. Communicating with the airline prior to travel dates is absolutely imperative. Many airlines have strict regulations for canine and feline travel and their regulations may vary based on the airline and the destination.

However you decide to travel, always remember that if you are taking a not-so-pet-friendly vacation, we would love your pet to stay with us while you are away.  West Chester Pet Resort offers a variety of services to make your pets stay a fun- filled adventure. Call to book your pet’s adventure today!

-West Chester Pet Resort & Spa
http://www.wcpetresort.com/
513-898-9631
By Kathy McRoberts 03 Dec, 2014

Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine


When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.

But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.

At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.

So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.

When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.

We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth:  The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.

Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing  earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.

“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.

So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:

  • You hear your Husky howling, and immediately storm in to reprimand her. How is this reinforcement? To many dogs, having a beloved human present (even a beloved yet annoyed human) is better than feeling lonesome. Your dog begins to think her howling is prompting you to chime in.
  • Your Lab whines pitifully as you begin to leave the house, so you return to take him with you. Over time, your dog starts believing that his whining causes you to come back for him (Pavlov’s theory, anyone?).
  • Your Westie mix cowers and growls behind the sofa whenever company arrives, so you pick him up and coo “Ohhhh, you’re fine, what a gooooood boy….” Soon, your dog begins to equate hiding and trembling with oodles of TLC.

“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.

Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.

The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”

Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.

Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress

The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )

Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.

Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.



By Kathy McRoberts 11 Jul, 2014

Original article by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience


“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”
“Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive” - Johnny Mercer


If you are interested in training your dog, you will quickly find that your pup will more than likely respond and learn more quickly through praise for good behavior versus punishment for inappropriate behavior. Seems obvious, but it all starts with how we think about behavior. When people come to me for training advice, they usually start out telling me what they don’t want their dog to do. “I don’t want my dog to jump on people, bark at the mailman, run away, pull on the leash, poo or pee on the floor, etc.” In other words, the definition of a good dog is - not a bad dog.

What I try to do is get people thinking about what they do want their dog to do instead of what they don’t want their dog to do. What does a good dog look like in their mind. For example, “I want my dog to sit on a place mat when people first come over until they are in enough control of themselves to politely say hello.” “A good dog goes to the bathroom outside in the back yard and tells me when they have to go.”

It is easier (and WAY more fun!) to train a dog when you are focusing your attention on what you want your dog to do instead of what you don’t want them to do. This will help you come up with alternatives to “bad” behavior. You can’t just say no all the time; no fun for you, no fun for your dog! You have to redirect and teach appropriate behavior. And it all starts with a positive outlook!  

So, make a list of all the things you don’t want your pup to do and then write down the opposite of that. What would you like your dog to do instead? Feel free to contact me if you would like any help!

Virginia L. Simpson
Certified Dog Trainer
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC
www.UnleashedCanineObedience.com  
IACP Member #3141
Phone: 513.317.7484




By Kathy McRoberts 17 Jun, 2014

Original article by Tails Magazine


It’s a terrifying feeling to lose your pet, and an experience that no pet parent ever expects to go through. According to the ASPCA, nearly one in five pets goes missing in the summertime due to triggers like fireworks, thunderstorms, and loud noises. Fortunately, 93% of missing dogs and 75% of missing cats are eventually returned to their homes.

The first step to keeping your pet safe and at home is prevention––make sure your pet is microchipped, that his tags are up to date with your current information, and keep him crated while you’re out if you’re concerned about escaping. If your pet does get loose, these tips from Paul Mann, the founder and CEO of Fetch! Pet Care provide helpful advice for bringing him home safely and quickly:

  1. Contact or visit your local shelters and animal control organizations. File a lost pet report with every shelter, dog pound, and animal control office within a 60-mile radius of your home and visit (or at least call) the nearest shelters daily.
  2. Get the word out to all veterinarians in the area. Sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic. 
  3. Search your neighborhood. Walk or drive through your neighborhood several times each day. Enlist friends, family, and others to help you. Ask neighbors, letter carriers, and delivery people if they have seen your pet. Hand out a recent photograph of your pet and information on how you can be reached if your pet is found. 
  4. Go door to door and speak with your neighbors. The more people who know you have lost a pet, and that you are upset, worried and desperately trying to find your pet, the more people will call you if they see an animal in the woods or on the road, or in their backyard. 
  5. Place posters and flyers throughout the neighborhood. Post notices at grocery stores, community centers, veterinary offices, traffic intersections, pet supply stores, and other locations. Also, place advertisements in newspapers and with radio stations. Include your pet’s sex, age, weight, breed, color, and any special markings. To avoid scams, when describing your pet, leave out one identifying characteristic and ask the person who finds your pet to describe it. 
  6. Post info about your pet on all pet recovery websites and services. Sites such as Craigslist.org, TheCenterForLostPets.com and FidoFinder.com allow you to broadcast your missing pet info quickly. National pet care providers can be hired to assist you in your search for your lost pet. 
  7. Consider using a lost pet recovery service. There are now numerous lost pet alert services, such as FindToto.com, that will contact homes, veterinarians, shelters and animal control organizations for a reasonable fee. 
  8. Place food and water outside your home. Your pet may eventually return to your home when they get hungry or thirsty. Consider placing the food in a rented or purchased humane pet trap to capture them. 
  9. Tell everyone you see about your pet and ask them to keep their eyes open for her. The more people you alert about your missing pet, the greater the chance someone will recollect seeing your pet in their area. 
  10. Don’t give up. Be aggressive in your search, get lots of help, get the word out right away – don’t wait a few hours “to see if she’ll come home on her own “– you need those early hours to put up posters and start your search. 
By Kathy McRoberts 01 May, 2014

Original article by Jordan Walker,  Tails Magazine


Approximately 10% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and if your dog is one of them, you know the stress it can cause on both of you. Disruptive and destructive behaviors are typical of separation anxiety, and are signs of a dog in distress. Read on and find out the causes of separation anxiety and some ideas for dealing with it.

Causes

So how come canine pals are bound to suffer from it in the first place? This question is still considered a puzzle to experts. However, there are suggested theories as to why it occurs:

1. Shaky background. Dogs acquired from shelters sometimes had tough beginnings. Neglect or abuse from previous caregivers could be at the root of anxious behaviors. Sometimes just the act of being left at a shelter is enough to spur separation anxiety.

2. Lack of conditioning. When left alone, some dogs are able to make themselves comfortable with their own toys. However, others have been conditioned to rely too much on their caregivers for entertainment and struggle to keep occupied when alone.

3. Unexpected changes. Establishing routines for dogs is very important as it helps foster feelings of comfort. When things suddenly take a different turn (such as with a new work schedule), your dog may act out in response.

What You Can Do

The good thing about separation anxiety in dogs is there are ways to treat it. Consider the tips below for helping your dog get over his separation blues:

1. Let him warm up to being alone. Don’t shock your dog into leaving the house for extended periods. What you can do instead is to gradually get him used to the idea of being left alone. Start at five minutes, extending it to twenty minutes and then increasing it every time you notice he has gotten comfortable with the previous allotted time.

2. Make leaving not a big deal. Touching, eye contact, and talking to your dog before leaving the house and when you arrive could make separation anxiety worse. Make it a rule to leave the house without fanfare. This way, your dog will get the message that your leaving the house is not that big of a deal.

3. Be confident yourself. You are your dog’s pack leader. If he senses you are not confident about him being okay when left alone, he will be inclined to act the part. Stay calm and confident and you have a better chance of your dog following suit.

4. Get his energy out first. Try to walk your dog before leaving him alone. Burning his excess energy will put him in a resting mode, making him calmer for the rest of the day.

If your dog is acting particularly unusual or out of character, a visit to the vet is probably in order. Some of the signs of separation anxiety––such as urinating or defecating inside––can have medical causes and should be treated immediately.

Most importantly, remember that anxious behaviors are a sign of an underlying issue, and punishment is not a helpful tool for fixing the problem––in fact, scolding or punishing will probably just make the issue worse. Instead, be your pet’s best friend and stay calm and consistent. He’ll thank you for it.

Jordan Walker is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages as well as a couple of other pet related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for ‘attempting’ to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @CoopsAndCages



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