Help! My Dog Won’t Sit Still! SOLVED!

As a professional dog trainer for over 25 years, and having
worked for numerous veterinarians over the past 20 years, I have
heard a lot of tales (not tails 😉
) about a puppy or an adult dog that won’t sit still.

This is very common and no cause for panic or alarm!

This problem is actually fairly easily fixed with a few
lifestyle changes, training, time and the ability to understand
your puppy or adult dog and his needs.  Teach your dog what you
want!

Understanding

I seemingly say this in almost every article as of late. 
People just don’t recognize the needs of their puppies or
dogs.

Your dog and/or puppy is not human but still has distinct
requirements that are sometimes very similar to the needs of a
child.

People and dog owners either love or hate the fact that I often
make analogies between dogs and children.  Sure, dogs are
different but some of the parallels are very similar and much
easier for parents to understand when likenesses are drawn between
the two.

How often does your puppy get exercise or a walk?

How often does your child or toddler get exercise, a walk, or a
trip to the park?

How often does your puppy get training, attention, and mental
stimulation?

How often does your child or toddler get your time and attention
while you teach them something new or expose them to a new
experience or environment or play with them?

Would you expect your toddler to sit still for hours on end
without mental stimulation, exercise or play?

Why then do we expect our dogs and puppies to sit still without
putting in the effort to play with them and help them?

We spend time with our children teaching them and playing with
them when they are young, because we know it is detrimental to
their mental and physical growth if we are not meeting their needs
and spending time with them.

As a dog owner you need to recognize that your puppy and your
adult dog also needs exercise, mental stimulation, petting and
attention in order to grow up into a healthy canine companion that
is capable of sitting still and controlling his impulses! 
Training your dog and meeting his needs doesn’t have to be
difficult or stressful.

Exercise

Let’s face it… physical exercise is important to all living
things.   Exercise is important to keeping us humans healthy and
avoiding obesity and disease and pain.  Even people who are in
chronic pain are
encouraged to exercise
, even if it is just a walk around the
block.  A sedentary lifestyle leads to more ridged joints and more
chronic pain.   And no one wants to be in chronic pain.  Just 30
minutes a day can significantly reduce pain and discomfort.

Your puppy and dog need exercise for many of the same reasons. 
Physical exercise helps to reduce obesity and increase muscle
growth. Sensible weight helps to keep your dog from developing hip
dysplasia and joint pain.  Muscle fibers can even help to keep the
joints of geriatric dogs stronger and reduce the pain of aging. 
Keep your dog healthy and pain free by making sure exercise is
consistent.

Physical exercise not only reduces pain it also entertains and
stimulates his brain.

However, if you aren’t moving fast enough, he will take the
opportunity to stimulate his own brain and running back and forth
and sniffing and pulling you from place to place.

I often relay this story to my students in my Companion Dog
Training Program:

I teach my dogs to pull and run beside a lateral recumbent
trike.  This allows me to be able to sit while they get the
physical exercise they demand.  I am not ashamed to admit that I
cannot run fast enough to tire or much less exhaust my high drive
dogs!  The trike helps them to move at a speed that they like and
gives me the opportunity to help them on hills and also brakes for
when we get to moving too fast.

A few years ago, I lived down by Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia
and I would let my dogs pull me to the lake (about 6 miles), go
dock diving and swimming and pull me home; each day.   Keep in
mind that this may be the kind of exercise your dog needs every
day!

One day I saw a squirrel headed toward the trike.  My dogs saw
him too, he was, indeed, hard to miss!  He ended up running
through my dogs legs and across the street.  They never even broke
stride, much less reached down to grab him.  Why?  Because their
minds and their bodies were stimulated!  They were so busy on the
task at hand that he didn’t even have time to act or react except
moving in the same direction.

I am a firm believer that this is the same reason that Guide
Dogs, Service Dogs and Police Dogs are so happy and well behaved
and pain free.  Their needs for exercise and mental stimulation
are constantly met to give them a well rounded life.

I like to run my dog until he just gets started panting and then
ease up.  Too much panting can be a sign of
heat exhaustion
.  So be sure to carry fresh water, cold packs
and make sure there is plenty of shade if it is over 70
degrees.

Mental Stimulation

To teach your dog what you want and what your expectations are
is crucial to having a well trained and well behaved dog!

This is where I draw differences; dogs are a whole different
species.  They aren’t born knowing what their human dog owner
wants.  Training and mental stimulation is even more important
than physical exercise.

Ian Dunbar a veterinarian and also a behaviorist has often said
that mental stimulation is more exhausting than physical
exercise.  You must challenge your puppy’s mind with training in
order for him to be happy and well rounded as an adult.

The good news is that dog training and your dog’s behavior is
fairly simple once you understand a few simple concepts!

Let’s Talk About What you Need A Clicker Leash Toys Food Food
Treats

Positive reinforcement has been proven through science, through
the decades, that this is the best way for dog to learn through
training your dog.  Unfortunately dogs won’t work for petting
alone.

Positive reinforcement also works on the people in your life, if
you do it right.

This is why I strongly recommend clicker
training
.

In order to teach your dog what you want as far as dog training,
you have to have a way to communicate when he does something
right.

Just like “NO”  (or whatever word you choose) tells a dog
when he has done something wrong the clicker or marker tells the
dog when he has done something correct.  Load the clicker:  click
and treat, click and treat, click and treat.  Use great food
treats! It takes very little time for your dog to understand that
the click brings his reward.

The marker is directly followed by food, a food treat or a
reward; even a toy and a game so that the dog understands what
behavior brings the reward.

Let’s take teaching your pup to sit.  When the pup sits;
click and reward.  You can even use a food treat and lure his nose
upward to until his rump hits the ground.  To teach the dog to
sit, he has to understand that the his, the dog’s behavior choice
is what brings the food.

The Leash

The leash helps you to control the dog and the space that he is
in while you are training.  I don’t want my pup to choose to get
up and wander away while I am teaching him.  And, yes, I recommend
using the leash in the house where there are no distractions.

This will help to desensitize your pup to the leash over time,
and help ready your dog for learning to walk nicely on the leash
and finding heel, later.

Toys

Most dogs like toys!  I even recommend
building toy drive.
 It may just take a little bit of time to
teach him to value toys.

Playing with a specific toy, in a fun and interactive way, with
the dog owner can be even better than a food treat or food
reward.

My dogs like food but they like toys better.  I carefully built
their drive with toys early in their lives so they could learn to
control and cap their drive.

I often have people who don’t want to raise or work with a
high drive dog, “Why would I want to increase his drive?  I want
to decrease his drive!”

And, I carefully explain to them that to build it is to learn to
control it over time.  If your dog is industrious and works and
caps his drive which means he is learning how to control his
impulses instead of letting them run rampant.

Working dogs, herding dogs, police dogs, guide dogs; all have to
learn to control the drive they have for the things they love so it
is not too much to ask from your dog!

And, it is a lot easier to carry a favorite toy than it is to
always accurately account for food treats.

Even if you have had a dog that won’t sit still by following
these simple steps you can teach your dog to sit still or lay still
and just be a great canine companion.

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Help! My Dog Won’t Sit Still! SOLVED!
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Help! My Dog Won’t Sit Still! SOLVED!