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thinking-dog, how to calm your dog

Basil and Cyril had a calm, quiet mooch at a local place where we knew we would come across other people and dogs this week. Both boys manage these situations when on their own, but can be a handful if other dogs get too close when they're together. Their mum wants to enjoy being able to sit quietly on a bench somewhere when she's out with them, so we're practising how to do it in small, managed sessions until she can build-up to taking them on her own. We spent a while just sitting and talking, using praise and Marks and Treats to reinforce any calmness. Basil gets Marked and Treated a lot for lying down, Cyril gets marked just for eye contact and not pinging about at first! We managed to extend this to choosing to lie down eventually, which is a big deal for him because he was feeling very fizzy!

This fizziness can be calmed down by very slow delivery of treats onto the floor, which meant he needed to snuffle about to find them. Using his nose to seek things out will always calm a dog because it makes him think in a focused way. Anxious dogs are often heavily reliant on their owners and can be a bit clingy, so working on their independence goes some way to making them more confident. Taking Cyril for a quick game of Ping Pong Puppy while his mum walked away is a tiny pawstep towards reducing his anxiety.

Both boys were able to lie down calmly while we chatted and were nicely relaxed as we mooched our way back to the cars.

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