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How to teach puppy to calm down (without a crate).

Updated on June 10, 2011
My "guppy" Ella (3 months old).
My "guppy" Ella (3 months old).

Your dog must know the command "down", in order to benefit from this training.

This will be one of the most useful things you can do for your pup. Teaching them being next to you, without jumping and biting, without hopping and bopping. Just laying down while you read, or cook, or talk on the phone. It's never too early to start. Our pup Ella began practicing it when she was just 12 weeks old. So, how does this magic work?..

A word of caution: You must realize, that a dog that does not receive a proper amount of exercise, cannot be calm. This strategy is not a substitute for daily walks, training, or playtime. This is a trick you can use in addition to all the other wonderful things you should be doing as a responsible dog owner.

There are three steps to this process.

Step One: Identify a soft treat that is easy to break into very small pieces without making a mess, and that your dog absolutely loves. This cannot be an "I-guess-I'll-take-it" kind of treat. This must be an "I-have-to-have-it-now-pretty-pretty-pretty-please" kind of treat. For my rottie, a cheese stick or a hotdog were motivational enough to follow through, and to master this by the time she was 4.5 months old.

Step Two: When you want your dog to settle down next to you, lead them to where you are planning to stay, give the command "Down".

Step Three: Begin to feed tiny pieces of the treat to your pup at various intervals - every 2-5 seconds when you just starting out; 5-15 seconds as you the time passes. Stop treating immediately, if the puppy gets up. Put them back in a "Down", and treat if they stay. Somewhere 2-3 minutes into the process, as you slow down the treats, you will notice your pup will begin to relax, as they are waiting for the next good thing.

It will help if you offer a chewy toy in front of them, somewhere between treats. Even if the pup doesn't pick it up right away, it's there for the taking, and it can distract their attention as they are waiting for their next piece of a treat coming up. Before you know it, they'll be concentrating on the toy in front of them.

Best of Luck!

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