Passive Calming Activities3 minute read
All dogs get overstimulated sometimes, and overstimulation can often lead to some unhelpful and unwanted behaviors. An overstimulated puppy might get aggressively bitey (even more than usual). An overstimulated adult dog might start barking, whining, or racing around the house with a case of the zoomies.
No matter the circumstances, it's important to have a plan in these situations to restore some calmness, and that's where calming activities come in.
What Is a Calming Activity?
Any activity that takes your pup from a heightened emotional state to a relaxed emotional state can be a calming activity. Below are a list of some common calming activities. Keep in mind that what's calming for one dog might actually have the opposite effect on another dog.
The important thing is to figure out what works for your pup. And if none of them work? Well, that's a good opportunity to turn one of them into a calming activity. Some calmness triggers are natural, but that doesn't mean they can't also be taught.
Examples of Calming Activities
A long lasting chew
This could be a raw hide bone, a pig's ear, or anything that takes your pup a while to consume and gives his emotions a chance to level out.
Kong toy filled with peanut butter
When prepared properly, these types of "puzzle" toys take a while to consume. Kong is just one example. There are lots of others and they can be filled with almost anything, not just peanut butter
This is similar to the Kong idea, just in a different format. Lick mats are designed so that they take a while for your dog to consume. They can be useful in lots of scenarios, like getting your pup to stand still while you brush her, but they're also great for bringing about calmness.
Some dogs are more relaxed after they've eaten a meal. If this is true for your dog, you might strategically time your meals to occur immediately after an activity that puts your dog in a heightened emotional state. For example, if your dog gets really excited after a walk, you might walk him first in the morning before giving him his breakfast.
Dogs can respond to physical touch just as much as humans can. A soothing comforting belly rub might be all it takes to calm down an excited dog.
Sending your dog to a place, like a dog bed or a crate, can bring about calmness. Just having somewhere to be with no other responsibilities gives your pup a chance to let his excited emotions run their course and reach a more even-keeled state.
"You Decide" games
A dog who is focused on one thing often doesn't notice anything else going on around him. If you can get your dog focused on a game like "Puzzle of the Tasty Fist" or "On the Paw," it might distract him from whatever was making him excited and give him time to find some calmness.