A puppy is cute, it’s full of life, and sometimes you may have trouble getting it to calm down. Here we’ll look at how to calm down an overly agitated puppy.
Even though it may be embarrassing for you or your guests, a puppy that jumps up and down gets excited and wants to play is perfectly normal and natural behaviour. However, as with any behaviour, solutions will be found to regulate it and allow for proper integration into the social group and a better master/dog cohabitation if it becomes excessive and unmanageable.
Responding to spending needs
First of all, and before anything else, it is very important to meet the puppy’s spending needs. You can imagine that a puppy who is well spent will only think of one thing once he gets home: sleeping and not jumping up and down chewing on everyone else.
I often hear owners complaining about their puppy’s unmanageable excitement. Still, when I ask them how they spend their puppy, only two or three outings in the garden per day are offered, and that is of course not enough to channel the high energy of puppies (and dogs in general).
So, before dealing with a concrete problem, we must ask ourselves the question, “why” is this behaviour occurring? And in the case of puppy excitement and agitation, in most situations, it is a lack of expenditure that is at fault.
How to respond to your puppy’s needs?
A puppy needs to get out of his house, out of his garden, and this every day. Of course, to respect his sleep time and development, the walks will not last for hours. However, a puppy will need 20 to 30 minutes of walk every day (depending on the breed and the energy to be evacuated).
Play sessions reinforce the relationship between the master and his puppy and exercise the puppy and even teach him to calm down on demand.
An example of an educational and playful game to propose to your puppy to teach him the immediate return to calm is called the ON/OFF game, and here is how to set it up in 3 simple steps :
Step 1: with a knotted rope (or any type of toy with which you can offer a pulling game to your puppy), invite your puppy to “chop” the toy.
Your attitude: cheerful voice, bent posture.
Step 2: Let your puppy pull on the toy without letting go of it, and make movements from right to left: don’t stay static; it could hurt your puppy.
Your attitude: be in the same energy as your puppy, encourage him to continue and always have a curved posture; it is very important for the continuation.
Step 3: After a few seconds (don’t wait until your puppy is too excited), stand up straight while still holding the toy and give a stop indication such as “stop” or “you let go”.
Your attitude: you are as straight as an “i” and static; do not try to remove the toy from your puppy’s mouth. Have a firm voice, without shouting or getting angry, just a firm and sure “stop”.
If your puppy drops the toy, wait a few seconds (ask him to sit, for example, for a clear return to calm) and then repeat step 1. This way, your puppy understands that he gets what he wants when he gives up when he calms down: giving up is winning!
If your puppy doesn’t let go, it may be that your two attitudes (play and stop) are not clear enough for your puppy. Be sure to distinguish the two times of the game through your voice and posture.
You can also barter if your puppy doesn’t want to let go, but this should be a last resort. Bartering can be done with a treat or another toy of similar value to your puppy.
Socializing with other dogs
Dogs are social animals, they need to communicate with other dogs, which also helps reinforce and/or maintain the dog’s codes.
Moreover, meetings with other dogs are essential for a puppy because they allow him to socialize and learn from balanced adult dogs. Indeed, a balanced adult dog (make sure to control the encounters to avoid giving your puppy bad experiences) will be able to come and “put in place” a puppy that goes too far and is too agitated.
In addition to being essential for the development and socialization of your puppy, the encounters with other dogs will allow you to complement the work that you already do daily.
Finally, puppies need to exercise themselves in an olfactory manner. As smell is the first sense developed in dogs, it is essential to stimulate it daily.
How to stimulate my puppy’s sense of smell? A few examples:
Take him for regular walks in varied and stimulating places.
Let him smell and sniff on a relaxed leash or in complete freedom. In short: take his time during walks, don’t prevent him from smelling all the messages left by his friends.
Suggest tracking games by hiding treats in the living room or the garden without him seeing them, then invite him to look for them and accompany him in this process.
Once the puppy’s spending problem has been solved, the owner’s attitude and consistency are called into question.
Let me explain: when a puppy jumps on us or bites us, the first thing we usually do is push him away. While pushing him away, we talk to him, look at him, and sometimes touch him to push him away physically.
You should know that these three elements, even if they are proposed with a displeased attitude from the master, will please the puppy, and it will then answer perfectly to his request: that is to say to have all your attention.
If you are reading this article, your problem is not solved; the proof is that the technique of “scolding” your puppy when he is too agitated and excited does not work.
To summarize, if you pay attention to your puppy when he is overly excited and agitated, you only validate and reinforce that behaviour.
Moreover, sometimes the inconsistency is even very significant when we see masters laughing and stroking their puppy when he jumps on them (maybe because at that moment, the puppy is not soaked and full of mud.). But be aware that the puppy doesn’t know and especially can’t intellectualize the difference between “I’m wet: I don’t jump” and “I’m clean: I can jump and say hello as I want”.
So, if you don’t want your puppy to jump: forbid all jumps. But then how do you do it?
Solutions for calming a restless puppy
If ignoring your puppy doesn’t work, if your puppy keeps insisting, it may be that you’re not patient enough for this. Try hard to follow through and propose this attitude to your puppy systematically every time he is too agitated.
But in any case, other solutions exist. The indications of renunciation and return to calm will allow you to advance and especially propose a coherent attitude to your puppy.
For this, the “stop” indication (learned in the ON/OFF game) will be very important. But also the indication “to the basket,” which means a return to calm in the refuge zone of the dog. Do not hesitate to consult our article dedicated to learning this indication to set it up as soon as possible with your puppy.
And finally, there is what is called social isolation. The dog, as mentioned before, being a social animal, his worst “punishment” will be to be alone. So, use this to understand that his attitude (agitation) generates something negative (isolation).
So be careful; the isolation should not last more than 5 or 10 minutes. Otherwise, the puppy will not even understand why he is there. The isolation should not be proposed in a place rich in stimuli (like outside, for example); otherwise, the puppy will not see it as something to avoid. Therefore, choose a neutral place (garage or toilet, for example) to isolate your puppy for a few minutes. Don’t reward your puppy when you return, but don’t continue the “punishment” either: simply ignore him and go about your business.
What attitude to adopt?
Initiate contact: It’s up to you to decide when you want to play with your puppy or pet him.
Ignore your puppy: if he asks for attention, ignore him (don’t talk, don’t touch, don’t look: in other words, turn your back on him) and when the puppy has moved on: invite him to come to you.
Be consistent and do not validate and therefore reinforce behaviours that are sometimes prohibited.
Do not get upset: calmness will be your best asset. If you are upset, your puppy will not be serene and will not trust you. Either he will be afraid of you, or he will take it as a game, so in any case: stay calm and sure of yourself.