I’ve been spending some time poring through Dr. Ian Dunbar’s fabulous site http://www.dogstardaily.com/ since he (the inventor of the modern puppy class!) has a wonderful way of making dog training accessible and easy for pet dog owners. I highly recommend setting up an account there if you have a pet dog and want simple, fun, and effective ways to teach your dog manners and to build your relationship. He offers a ton of free articles, videos, podcasts, and even a free download of his excellent books on how to raise puppies.
One of the terms from his work that I liked and will appropriate is his “Jazz Up & Settle Down”. I have used the concept before, but his terminology is really perfect and makes the meaning quite intuitive.
You can teach your dog to get excited and to be calm when you want him to by playing the Jazz and Settle game. I last posted on teaching Ranger to be calm, and now that we have built this association a little, I’m going to use the power of opposites to help solidify for Ranger what it means.
One fun thing about this is that for many dogs, it is self-reinforcing; the Jazz part is super fun because dogs like being bouncy and playing, and the Settle part is nice because dogs like scritches and petting. You can also use treats to reinforce both aspects of the game, but “life rewards” are wonderful tools to use.
Here’s a video of Ranger playing Jazz and Settle. I am throwing a couple of training cues into the “Jazz” part to use that energy to reinforce good behavior, but this is not a necessary part of the game. You can Jazz with just playing and happy, fun interactions.
Try it out with your dog!