Isn’t it great how whenever you feel like playing around with your dog, he or she always seems game?  So much, in fact, that it can be difficult to let your dog know when it’s time to settle down again!  Dogs are often rambunctious because they are happy to see you; they just constantly crave attention and affection.  When you play with dogs you are reinforcing in their minds that you accept them and care for them.  This is good, of course, but how can you let your dog know that it’s time to slow down and quiet down?  There isn’t one guaranteed magic solution to make dogs behave ALL the time… Sorry!  Rather, it’s a combination of things that will make your relationship to your dog more rewarding and less stressful.

The best way to avoid having a dog that is way too rowdy is to train your dog from a young age.  Dogs need schedule, and you should meet your dog’s needs in as orderly of a fashion as possible.  This will help your dog to avoid over-acting in the first place, but you can never really healthily eliminate a dog’s desire to play, and you shouldn’t want to!  Communication is key in owner-to-pet relationships, and to be able to quickly and efficiently let your dog know that it needs to chill out is achieved through positive communication.  If a dog’s behavior doesn’t result in the dog getting what it wants, it is unlikely to repeat that behavior.

Assuming that you’ve had your dog for a while, and training isn’t really what you’re after… You just want to know some quick ways to calm down a dog!  Well, here goes.

Make sure you take the dog out frequently to potty. It’s hard to tell when dogs act up because they need a bathroom break.  Lots of times, they just want to go explore, sniff around, chase squirrels, dig or do other things that dogs do under the pretense of going to the bathroom.  How many times have you let the dog out to pee only to watch it do EVERYTHING BUT PEE?!  Take them out regularly so that they don’t constantly trick you into going outside.

If a dog is jumping around, and up in your face, get the dog to lay down on its tummy or on its back. If you get your hand on top of a dog that’s lying down, it establishes dominance to a dog.  Stay this way for a few minutes to let the dog know you’re serious about chilling out

You calm down first! The more worked up you are (being loud, fast, etc.) the more a dog will act up.  Dogs really mirror human actions well, so when you are pulling on a leash, the dog pulls harder.  Try just stopping; this lets the dog know that “we’re gonna try this again, my way this time.”  Have the dog freeze- “SIT” or “DOWN”.  Give it a few minutes!

Call your dog when it’s barking.  Pet your dog, give it a treat.  Continue calling the dog to other places, praise it, reward it.  This can really help in getting a dog not to bark in the house.  They think that barking gets your attention; it does, doesn’t it?  Get the dog to come to you, then engage it.  The system of rewarding a dog for doing what you want it to often will stop a dog from doing it what you don’t want it to.  Remember: don’t get exasperated! Dogs only calm down when you do.

Restrain dogs until they get the picture. Do this for dogs that want to dash out the door as soon as you open it or dogs that go crazy in the car.  Always have the dog on it’s leash before you open the door. Let your dog know that he or she needs to stay until you say it’s time!  Dogs that are wild in cars really should be restrained until they learn to be calm passengers; I don’t know how many times I’ve watched in amusement (and sometimes horror) as my brother drives with his two rascally Jack Russell Terriers.  If they are always wild in the car, they always will be!  Restrain them in a kennels or with doggy seatbelts until they are ready to try being calm, well-behaved passengers.

Become a team with your dog.  It’s communication that is all important with these lovable scamps.  Remember, don’t fight your dog- work with it instead.  Don’t try to make your dog unlearn its instincts, use them to redirect the dog towards the behavior you want it to exhibit.  And when in doubt, always try slowing things down: your voice and your body language.  Above all, stay consistent!