How to Have a Calm, Relaxed Dog

Teach your dog to get what she wants by acting low-key, and lower her stress levels by helping her feel safe. Have a low-key dog who’s not under constant stress!

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #144

How many of you out there sometimes wish your dog would just chill, already? Are you driven to despair by your dog’s energy and bounce? Does he seem tense and on edge, ready to jump up at every little thing? Take a deep breath for this week’s topic: how to help your dog be more relaxed.

The Big Three of producing a calm, relaxed dog are tactics I advise pretty much constantly in this series: adequate aerobic exercise to tire Dogalini’s body; food-dispensing puzzle toys to give her projects more interesting than inhaling the chow from her bowl in 10 seconds or less; and short daily sessions of reward-based training to teach her good manners and tire that brain.

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But you can also encourage low-key behavior indirectly, as you go about your business throughout the day. This week, two and a half ways to do it. (Just remember, a relatively relaxed, “low-key” year-old terrier mix may still be a good deal bouncier than the retired racing Greyhound down the street!)

The Big Three tips for a relaxed dog are exercise, food-dispensing puzzle toys, and reward-based training – but you can encourage low-key behavior throughout the day.

1. “Magnetize” Your Dog’s Bed

Start with a super-comfy bed, of course; a thin blanket on a cold floor really doesn’t cut it. As for your “magnets,” they’re attention and treats. At random times, leave a small biscuit on the bed for Dogalini to find. What an interesting location that bed is! A dog who just happens to be resting on her bed might also find the Treat Delivery Service appears from time to time. If your dog enjoys being petted, make it your business to notice when she’s hanging out on the bed and choose those times to give her a scratch on her chest or under her chin.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).