Rewarding Calm Behavior Outside the Kennel    

We all know that most potential adopters would like a dog that greets people in a calm manner and is able to settle in a home environment. Below are some quick and easy ways to reward the dogs during the day for calm behaviors. Prior to these exercises please introduce the dog to the marker word “YES” by following the Our Companions Getting a Shelter Dog’s Attention Quick Tip Sheet. 

Focus or Watch 

Hold a treat in each hand and show them to the dog – Then bring towards your eyes – dog will look back and forth – until finally he should look up to your eyes – at which time you could say ” Focus” or “Watch” Dogs tend to mirror our energy – so we must show the dog we are calm. 

If the dog jumps up, barks or demonstrates other un acceptable behavior the treat goes away. You can say sorry too bad or oops to mark that the dog made a mistake.  

Try again – if the dog is not successful after three tries end the game and go back to working on the Attention Quick Tip Sheet.  

Once dog looks up at us even for a second mark with a “YES” and Treat. 

As the dog gets better at this exercise ask for a longer look prior to marking and treating.  

 Focus during Walks  

Mark and reward any attention (focus) the dog gives to you on a walk. The more a behavior is rewarded the more it will be repeated.  While out for a walk try some Focus exercises – randomly ask the dog for behaviors that they know (sit, down, focus or watch). 

Calm Petting  

Many dogs go over the top when being handled or petted. Some dogs naturally enjoy human contact while others could live without it. The more social a dog is with a human the more adoptable. Teach the dogs to be calm while being handled. Use long slow calming strokes. If you have a dog that is fearful of handling pair petting with delicious treats.