How to Train a Puppy to Calm Down Using Positive Reinforcement

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: January 26, 2018

In this Omaha puppy training session we worked with Cleo, a six-month-old American Bulldog, to stop nipping who and learn how to calm down.

In order to help a puppy calm down we first need to think about what kind of needs the puppy has. Does the puppy have a lot of energy? Do they have enough things to chew on… that you want them to chew on? In this case, Cleo had enough things to chew on and was getting a 30-60 minute walk each day, but it wasn’t enough. This is a common problem for puppies or young dogs.

Often times jumping up, nipping and other behavioral issues occur because the dog isn’t getting its energy needs met. Sometimes a walk isn’t enough for the dog or puppy. I suggested that Cleo start attending doggy daycare to allow her to get exercise and play with other dogs her own age. This will also teach her that nipping isn’t fun because other puppies and dogs will nip back!

To start training Cleo how to calm down, once her energy needs have been met, I taught her guardian how to use the Conditioned Emotional Response (CER) method. Below is a CER instructional video on how to do this:

Before I started to use the CER method, Cleo was trying to nip at the leash and collar, like many puppies do. She thought it was a fun game! Instead of getting frustrated with her and trying to force the collar on I used this method to train Cleo how to put the collar on herself using positive reinforcement. This turned a potentially frustrating situation for guardian and puppy into a positive one.

By the end of the session Cleo was learning how to calm down and stop nipping. Her guardian is going to start signing Cleo up for doggy daycare so she can play with other puppies and dogs while her guardian is away at work during the day. We wrapped up this puppy behavior session with Cleo’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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