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 (and you!) feel better.
1. 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.
2. 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.
- Once you have their attention, you can ask them to do other commands, such as come. This helps to stop them from doing what was riling them up in the first place or to get away from whatever is making them anxious.
Once they are calm and relaxed, reward them.
Having your dog used to being around other dogs and people will go a long way in easing anxiety and quieting hyperactivity. While you’re probably thinking that socializing might make your dog more active, it can actually have the opposite effect. If something becomes part of a dog’s normal schedule, they’re usually less likely to go overboard with excitement or anxiousness about it. Going to the dog park will still be a treat, but it becomes more old hat and almost expected.
While most socialization should take place when a dog is young, it’s never too late to get them out there. For your first outings, whether it be the park or an obedience class, make sure you have your dog securely on a leash so that you can easily control the situation. Take it slow so as not to overwhelm anyone (including yourself!), and only award appropriate behavior.
4. Calming Supplements
The market is flooded with natural supplements that are formulated to induce a calming effect on our canine companions. They contain anything from chamomile to CBD. These products have varying efficacy so it’s best to speak with your veterinarian first.
CBD products are derived from hemp and contain phytocannibinoids that have an effect on the endocannabinoid system which serves to promote a calm disposition, as well as healthy joints, and sleep. CBD products do not contain the hallucinogenic compound THC. The Charlotte’s Web Calming Chews contain phytocannibinoids that are combined with natural ingredients such as chamomile, valerian root and passion flower extract. These natural substances can help contribute to a calming effect.
If all else fails to calm your dog and you are worried for their safety or the safety of those around them, speak to your veterinarian about medications that could possibly help. Most of these medications provide mild to heavy sedation that rather than decreasing the anxiety or energy, just making it so they don’t care as much. These medications will also usually require a prescription, so again, save this as a last-ditch option.
If only dogs could do yoga or belly breathing when they’re in need of a calming down, but unfortunately those practices tend to be lost when it comes to our pooches. However, there are some equally effective measures to try to help calm your dog down and help them remain calm as well. Some of those involve training and others involved supplementation or medication.