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Making calm behaviours the most rewarding for your dog.

Updated: Jul 12

Capturing and rewarding calmness.

You will need a leash and collar or harness, a treat pouch filled with high-value goodies, and a good deal of patience. Be ready to dish out multiple rewards very quickly in step two.

Note: Unless you are trying to leave a dangerous situation, never leash an over-excited dog. You are conditioning it to associate the leash with hyper behaviour.

Step One – Get Your Dog to Calm Down with A Simple Leash Exercise.

Pick up the leash as if to leash your dog and if your dog becomes excited, remove the leash and out it back down, and wait for the desired behaviour you want to reinforce: Sitting calmly. When your becomes calmer, try to pick up the leash again. If your dog reacts with excitement, withdraw the leash and resume waiting until your dog is sitting calmly. Repeat continuously; maximum 20 minutes per session. Persevere with this, and you’ll eliminate over-excitement when your leashing your dog before your start your walk. Life-changing!

Step Two – Use the Engagement Game to Reward Your Dog for Calming Down Naturally

The Engagement game is where fast-paced treat-dispensing happens. Sit somewhere quiet in your home with your dog on a leash. Shorten the leash and wait until your dog offers you eye contact while sitting, without being prompted. Your dog may break their eye contact with you instantly, start sniffing or pulling on the leash or acting hyper alert. Just keep waiting for eye contact. When it is continuous, start feeding a sequence of multiple treats very quickly, while calmly praising your dog to encourage longer eye contact. This may take many repetitions until your dog makes sustained, continuous eye contact.

Step Three – Try with A Longer Leash.

Repeat step two, with the leash lengthened and you are both standing.

Chocolate Labrador retriever waiting patiently on leash for treats.

Step Four – Take the Engagement Game Outdoors.

Sit with a shortened leash and then stand up and lengthen the leash paying it out as you’re standing. Practice the Engagement Game at a series of outdoor locations, challenging your dog with various distractions. Try the back yard or front yard, street, bus stop, construction site, recycle depot, outside sports venues such as soccer games, skateboard park, dog park or playground area.

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