“Oh, just wait until he’s three or four. He’ll calm down then.”
Another variation I’ve heard is…
“You’ve got a _________ (Labrador, Golden Retriever, Australian Shepherd, Fill In The Blank)? They don’t calm down until they are two or three.”
I’ve heard these comments first and second-hand from veterinarians, client’s co-workers, neighbors, other ‘dog trainers’, people at the park, and any other person that is willing to vocalize their knowledgeable opinion. Every time I hear this, though, a little part of me dies. This is such a misinformed and wrong opinion that it takes all of my effort to keep my mouth shut when in polite company.
Well, today I’m not in polite company. This is my blog and I’m ready to voice my opinion.
A calm dog is not a product of age. A calm dog is a product of design, training, and work. What most people call a high energy dog I call a dog who is screaming out for training.
What tires you out the most? Is it physical effort or mental effort? Perhaps both? I find that most dogs get very little mental challenge or exertion throughout their day. Imagine if you, or your children, spent day after day without mental work. Without reading a book or magazine. Without going to work or school. Without playing a game, trying something new, overcoming a problem, or being challenged to learn a new thing. How would your mood be? What would your energy level be?
Unfortunately, most dogs spend their lives like this. It’s day after day with very little expected or asked of them. Very few dog owners push and challenge their dogs to be better on a daily basis. If you take a living, breathing, intelligent creature and don’t challenge that individual it stands to reason that you could have a high energy ‘not calm’ dog on your hands.
So what is the solution? Here are a few ideas:
- Obedience Training – This is the best antidote for a hyper or wild dog. Obedience training takes a great deal of mental work to digest. It calms a dog, it provides structure, and it provides healthy respect.
- Trick training – Teach your dog something new. Dogs can be like sponges ready to soak up new stuff. Training dog tricks can be a good way to challenge your dog to do new things.
- Focused walking – Walking your dog isn’t good enough. Walk your dog in a focused way where he or she isn’t pulling and is staying right next to your side.
- Checks and balances – Have your dog do random acts of obedience. Have him wait at doors. Sit before she eats. Lie down while you eat dinner.
Provide structure, rules, obedience and you can have a calm dog from a young age instead of waiting years.
Image credit: Ari Helminen