We have all been there before. You get home from work, exhausted, and ready to put your feet up. You plan a quiet night in, perhaps with a soothing glass of wine. Lounging on your sofa, perched against fluffy pillows that feel like heavenly clouds against your back sounds like a dream come true. And then you get home, only to find your puppy has torn through half the decorative sofa pillows. And not only is there a huge mess to clean but your overeager puppy also wants to play and you find yourself asking the question of how to calm puppies.
Puppies are like children — not for the faint of heart. They are a huge responsibility. They require commitment, energy, and a lot of goodwill. However, they give so much in return. There’s nothing like being greeted by a loving puppy that looks at you like you are the center of its world. And, in a way, you are. That kind of unconditional love is precious and irreplaceable. But that doesn’t mean we have to put up with any behavior our lovely furry babies decide to serve to us on any given day.
When you talk with any new dog owner, the first topic of conversation will be — how to calm puppies. Although lovely, their high-energy and childlike eagerness takes a lot out of us. While we shouldn’t try to tamper it down — who wants a sad, zombie puppy? — you have to curb some types of behavior.
How to calm puppies — a crash course
The first thing everyone has to know — there’s no such thing as a permanently calm puppy. In fact, if you notice that the energy levels and overall demeanor of your puppy are consistently low, take it to the vet.
Puppies are naturally energetic, curious, and playful. Keeping up with them is a difficult task. But you can’t spend your days perpetually running around after your puppy. While they do require a lot of attention, you can’t devote your entire day — every day — to them. So, what should you do?
Keeping up with the Puppashians
If your puppy is acting like a true diva, demanding attention and energy at inconvenient times, you have to know how to keep up with it.
As soon as you bring your new star home, you have to start training it. Of course, some training regimens are too harsh for small puppies. But there are ways to deal with everything a puppy brings into your life — you just have to know the right way to do it.
So, what are our primary options? How to calm puppies in a few easy steps?
Wait them out
Not every opportunity is the perfect chance to teach your puppy what you want them to know. However, every situation is a teaching opportunity. You just have to know what to teach and at which moment.
. If we want to calm them down, we need to use proper techniques and wait for the perfect moment. We’ll talk more about that later on.
It’s all about balance
Although you should grab every opportunity to teach your pup something new, don’t go overboard. Sometimes a dog just has to run around, get excited, or pee a bit where it shouldn’t. That’s life! Try to maintain a balance of teaching time and playtime, so all your dog’s needs are met.
A puppy should be stimulated. That means that you can’t just drill tricks and obedience commands into its head. You have to provide a well-rounded life, and that includes both playtime and training time.
Routine is everything
Puppies are curious, and they want to sniff, touch, bite, and roll around in anything and everything. Don’t hamper their natural curiosity. However, also don’t give them too many opportunities to explore. The best way to achieve this is to build a routine.
A routine will make your dog know what to expect. It’s a form of training more than anything else. However, it will also help you figure out how to calm puppies. With a firm routine, you’ll be able to eliminate potential triggers that might send your puppies into overdrive.
Don’t waste that energy
As we all know, puppies have a lot of energy. A LOT. They are like real-life, furry versions of Perpetuum mobile. Their eagerness and the fact that they are always ready for a new adventure can work to your advantage.
Don’t waste the seemingly endless energy your puppy has. Take advantage of the fact that your puppy is willing to do whatever you’d like, whenever you have the time. So, set aside some time to take it for a run, a long walk, or just play with it. In other words — exhaust it when it’s convenient for you!
Now, as mentioned, each situation has its own techniques and methods on how to calm puppies. And we hear all you tired new puppy owners screaming — tell us more, tell us more! So, let’s dive right in.
How to calm high-energy puppies
High-energy puppies are a handful. They are always running around, and we sometimes might think we have more than one in the house. While it’s an integral part of puppy nature to be high-energy, we can calm our pups down enough to actually teach them something.
Check yourself before you… end up with an overeager puppy
There are a few different ways to deal with high-energy puppies. Firstly, we have to check if our puppy is behaving in a certain way because that’s their nature or because we are maybe giving out the wrong vibe.
Our puppies can reflect our own energy. So, if we’re agitated, excited, or merely hyperactive, our dogs will pick up on it and mimic it. When looking into the solution on how to calm puppies, we must first learn to calm ourselves.
Ignore it, and it shall pass
Although not an ideal solution, you can always calm down your puppy by ignoring the erratic behavior. When they have excess energy, our dogs will seek attention from us. Try not to give into that. How to calm puppies with too much energy? Don’t let them suck you into the wormhole of their hectic playtime.
The more we pay attention to our doggies while they are hyperactive, the more we are reinforcing that behavior. It’s much better to remove your dogs from the situation, set them in a quiet setting, and ignore their outbursts or attempts to get your attention.
Now, this might not be as effective with puppies as it is with adult dogs. Puppies are easily distractible after all. However, it might be worth a try.
Find solace inactivity
Another effective answer to the question of how to calm puppies is to exhaust that excess energy from them. Consider taking your puppy for a long walk. If you don’t feel like going out, there are other options as well. You can give your puppy a task that will occupy it. The task will keep them focused, and their energy won’t seem as scattered as it did before.
For example, try putting on a backpack on your puppy. The bag will be a novelty, and it will occupy the puppy’s attention. However, it will also become a focal point. Your puppy will become more focused on the task of carrying the backpack, and it won’t be as easily distracted.
If all else fails — a treat always works
Of course, it’s crucial that we make positive reinforcement a vital part of training our new puppy. We have to reward the behavior we want to reinforce and ignore or punish behavior that we see as unfavorable. So, each time your puppy is calm — treat it with a snack!
That way, your puppy will start to expect a treat each time it’s calm. And, because dogs are just as trigger-happy when it comes to taking prizes, soon your puppy will be the poster child for calm, model behavior.
How to calm puppies that are overly excited
Young pups are quickly excited. Everything around them is fresh and new. Each new item is an adventure in the making, every new person a potential friend. They say there’s nothing in this world happier than a puppy. And they aren’t wrong. Young doggies are always happy and excited.
However, that can interfere with our daily schedules or training. When a puppy is so easy to excite, everything is a distraction. So, what do we do?
Say that you have a pup and are trying to teach it to play fetch. Sounds great, right? Like a scene from a Hallmark movie — you and your furry buddy, in some greenfield somewhere, playing fetch while a piano medley plays in the background. Ah, bliss!
But then, your puppy starts wagging its tail furiously while it waits for you to toss the ball. It’s adorable, right? However, then it starts to bark while looking at the ball, and then it starts jumping and trying to snip at your hand (or as far as it can reach). So, now, not only are you missing an opportunity to teach your dog something but you also have an overeager mess of a puppy on your hands.
Stop, drop, and withdraw
When a puppy gets overly excited, the best thing to do is to remove the trigger. Stop your blissful game of fetch, and lower your own energy levels. It would be ideal if you could put the puppy in a safe place and withdraw from it. After all, you’re one of the triggers as well.
Again, it’s vital that we include positive reinforcement here as part of the learning process. Each time the puppy doesn’t get overeager while tossing the ball around, reward it with a treat. Contrarily, avoid negative reinforcement.
If you say to yourself “ah, it’s just a puppy, this is normal,” you’re teaching your buddy wrong things. So don’t be surprised when that type of behavior rears its ugly head in the future again — even when your pup becomes a full-fledged adult in the doggie world.
How to calm puppies when barking
Children cry, and dogs bark. That’s how the saying goes, right? Therefore, if you’re looking up how to calm puppies when barking in the hopes that your dog will never bark again — you’re in for a rude awakening. Dogs communicate by barking. It’s an essential part of their nature, and it would be wrong to take that away from them. By barking, dogs are greeting, alarming, or playing with us.
That being said, we are fully aware that there’s nothing worse than a barking puppy at 2 AM. So, how to avoid being the neighborhood pariah with a relentless barking pup?
As with any other behavior, when wondering how to calm puppies when they are barking their cute, little, furry heads off, the number one tip is consistency. If the barking is a behavior you’d like to eliminate, or at least diminish, you have to be consistent with your responses.
Namely, you can’t switch between positive and negative reactions when it comes to barking puppies. Not only will you give your dog a metaphorical whiplash, but you’ll also confuse it, and fail to teach it a valuable lesson.
…but don’t be too harsh
Puppies are like kids, which means they come into this world as blank canvases. It’s our job to teach them what’s wrong and what’s right. So, apply positive reinforcement and punishment, if needed. However, don’t be too harsh. Always remember that your puppy isn’t barking to spite you. It doesn’t know that the barking drives your neighbors crazy, nor does it care. It just wants attention.
Remember — anything can be a reward
It’s vital that we reinforce the behavior we want our puppies to embrace. Therefore, when dealing with a barking puppy, we can’t bark back. Always use a calm tone when soothing your pup. However, also make sure that you’re following through.
Your attention is what the puppy is probably after. Therefore, don’t give it. If you always jump on every bark and squeal, your dog will learn that that’s the best way to get your attention.
Instead, calmly tell your dog “hush.” If the negative behavior doesn’t stop, turn around and walk away. If it does, you know what to do — treat that clever pup!
Recurring situations and fear
If your puppy always barks in specific situations, you have to address that. Let’s say it always barks at the mailman or passers-by. If you don’t correct it, it will learn that this is appropriate behavior. Luckily, these issues are quite easy to solve. For example, ask your mailman to give a treat to your pup in order to get into its good graces.
Puppies bark to alert us to something new in their environment. However, they can also bark because they are scared. Try to pinpoint the trigger. It can be a strange sound, a person, or an item. Then, try to remove the trigger. If that’s not possible, expose your puppy to it in a safe environment to teach it that there’s no room for fear.
How to calm puppies when they are anxious
Anxiety is a fickle enemy of many — puppies included. Our furry little friends can become just as stressed and anxious as we can. Granted, the triggers will probably be somewhat different for them, but the feeling of loneliness and stress is the same. What’s more, it has the same impact, and it will alter the puppy’s behavior.
When anxious, puppies can become even more erratic, destructive, or they can withdraw. If we have an anxious puppy, it’s vital that we soothe it.
Cuddling and physical contact
When we notice that there’s something wrong with our puppy, it’s only natural that we want to comfort it. That’s a good instinct, and you should always listen to it. Try providing physical contact for your anxious puppy.
Touching, petting, or cuddling your puppy will reassure it and calm the anxiety. What’s more, there’s a strong possibility that the lack of contact is what’s causing the stress. Giving your pup some much-needed attention is an easy fix.
Sometimes anxious puppies don’t lose energy or withdraw. On the contrary — they become more energetic. They start to pace the room or crate, bark, dig or howl. If you notice this behavior, aside from figuring out what caused it, it’s vital that we allow the puppy to get rid of excess energy.
Overall, exercise is an excellent answer to the question of how to calm puppies. When stressed or anxious, puppies can become quite tense. A long walk or a run can burn off some tension and leave both you and the pup feeling much better.
Change the focus
Getting rid of excess energy is vital. However, we can’t always provide that for our puppies. That’s why it’s crucial that we utilize several techniques. One of them is to switch focus. Play with them or just give them something to focus on.
Many anxious puppies get destructive. Instead of trying to explain to them that sofa cushions aren’t chewing toys, simply give them a chew toy. Provide them with a toy that’s sturdy enough to withhold their destructive tendencies. That will burn off some excess energy and release a bit of the tension.
If all else fails, you can always give your puppy a time-out. Sometimes all the chew toys or rewards of this world won’t be effective. If that’s the case, simply remove your puppy from stimulation situations, and give it a time out.
However, don’t think of the time out as the jail card in Monopoly. A time-out is supposed to make your puppy feel better, not worse. There’s a good chance that the puppy is tired and overstimulated. Therefore, a nice, quiet place where it can rest and recharge is the perfect solution. However, to stop it from wandering off or plowing through your houseplants, the ideal place for a puppy time out in the crate.
Don’t make your puppy fear the crate by turning it into a punishment. Instead, calmly lead your pup to the crate, put it in, and give it a treat. Petit for a bit, and then withdraw to allow your puppy to collect itself.
How to calm puppies in new situations
The Catch 22 with puppies is that everything is new. And, while you might be inclined to let your pup experience everything the world has to offer, that might not be the best strategy training-wise.
Puppies are curious, and they’ll want to sniff the new situation out with their own little muzzles. Young puppies will look up to you for a model for appropriate behavior. In new situations, you will be their guide, and they will imitate your actions. That’s why it’s vital that we lead by example and present our puppies only with the behavior we want them to model.
Be the change you want to see in your puppy
But sometimes, they won’t trust your judgment as much as they do their own nose. And, that’s normal. However, it doesn’t mean we can’t curb the behavior of our puppies in new situations.
If we are trying to introduce a novelty to our puppies, our behavior is vital. Let’s say you want your puppy to meet someone new: a friend or another pet. The way you treat a unique situation is fundamental, so always approach new situations calmly. Capture the attention of your puppy and maintain a relaxed demeanor.
However, sometimes we can’t introduce new stimuli in a controlled environment. When confronted with something new, our puppies can react fearfully, defensively, actively, or calmly. Of course, the end goal is to teach them to respond to new situations calmly. To achieve that, we have to use positive reinforcement. Award only the behavior you want your puppy to embrace.
A few parting words
How to calm puppies? Not easily, that’s for sure! However, with a bit of persistence, perseverance, and a few tricks up your sleeve, we’re sure you’ll do just fine. Puppies bring so much joy in our lives, but in order to keep both them and us as joyous as possible, we have to pay attention to training.
Calming excited, stressed, afraid, or hyperenergetic puppy is an uphill battle. But the wagging tail and calm demeanor waiting at the top of that hill are more than worth it.