Picture it: You have just brought home your new puppy or dog and are motivated to teach him all the foundation behaviors that are essential to a good dog. You practice diligently throughout the day, before meals, after work, before bedtime, all in different parts of the home. The dog is so smart, picking up all the behaviors quickly, you may begin to boast about just how smart he is. That is until you take the dog somewhere besides home where he gets crazy and begin asking the behaviors. Suddenly the stellar student can’t seem to focus at all to do anything you ask. Sound familiar? How do we get this dog from crazy to calm?
It isn’t that your dog isn’t smart, he is. What happens is we set our training sessions up with our dogs when we have their complete focus and little to no distractions. This isn’t bad, in fact it helps your dog learn those behaviors quickly. What it doesn’t do is teach your dog how to do those behaviors when things get a little distracting.
How To Play Crazy To Calm
It’s a fun little game where your goal is to amp up your puppy or dog with play to a 10 and then after they have gotten jazzed up you want to bring them back down to zero, calm. This game will help teach your dog impulse control, a solid sit, and a dog’s version of saying please.
Depending on the excitability of your pup you will want to build your dog up to a level where he can succeed at. Some dogs may only start at a 5 because that is hard enough for them while others might be able to start play at a 10. Spend 30 seconds or so playing with your dog. Jazz him up. Then stop, ask for a sit and reward once your dog sits. Have your dog maintain a sit. You can treat your dog every few seconds initially to help keep him in position. When you are ready to play again, use a release word such as Free Dog or Play On. Your dog will learn he must maintain a position until he is told otherwise. Sounds a bit like a stay doesn’t it? In fact you are teaching a default stay with this game as well.
Once you’ve played a few minutes give your dog a chance to offer the sit. Now we are looking for the say please portion of the game and also building an automatic sit for when you stop, handy for walking on leash. Encourage your dog to play with you like before but this time when you stop you are not prompting your dog for a sit, we want him to make the decision. Simply wait and then reward your dog once he does sit. He may be slow at first but should get quicker. Use your release cue and play again. With your dog offering the sit it is his way of saying please may I? Please may I go say hello to that person? Please may I go sniff that tree? Please may we play some more?
This game is teaching your dog how to get excited and then bring himself back down to a functioning level. If we start teaching our dogs how to do their behaviors when their energy level is up we are helping them for when bigger distractions occur. This game alone will not teach your dog how to focus in the presence of running children, other dogs, cats or people in general but it will help in conjunction with other foundation behaviors such as focus & leave-it.
Would love to hear how the game worked for you!