How to Teach Your Puppy to Relax

A puppy peacefully resting in her bed, illustrating the process of how to teach your puppy to relax for a harmonious bond - learn how-to guide for puppy relaxation training.

Are you ever left wondering why your puppy is restless and won’t relax? As puppy parents, we hope that our puppy will just chill out. We might even expect our puppy to just naturally settle and relax. But did you know that relaxing and hanging out doesn’t come naturally to puppies? So, if you are pulling your hair out or feeling overwhelmed and asking yourself… why won’t my puppy lay down and relax?!?!?, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Let’s talk about how to teach your puppy to relax.

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First things, first, let’s talk about the importance of sleep for puppies. Just like us, puppies need good, quality sleep.

We all need our beauty rest, so to speak. Sleep is crucial for your puppy’s growth and development, as well as their overall well-being. During your puppy’s sound slumber, their brains process new information (this is essential for your puppy training plan).

Now, here’s where it can get a bit confusing. Many puppy parents assume their puppy must be sleeping in order to relax. While sleep is a form of relaxation, not all relaxation involves dozing off.

Picture this: you come home after a long day and want to unwind. You curl up on the couch with your favorite show. You’re relaxing, but not sleeping. Your puppy can, and should, learn to relax during the day, too. But remember, relaxing doesn’t just happen naturally for our puppies.

The lack of an “off switch” and overstimulated puppies

Your puppy is naturally inclined to explore, play, and discover the world around them. They don’t come equipped with an off switch that allows them to automatically relax (but, boy, that would certainly come in handy. Amiright??). Often, puppy parents find it frustrating when their furry companion returns from vigorous exercise or playtime and won’t settle down. It’s important to remember that too much physical exertion can overstimulate a puppy. This makes it hard for them to find their calm state. It can also lead to over arousal issues.

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Let’s explore some scenarios when puppy parents want a calm puppy and expect their puppy to relax.

First up, when puppy parents want to enjoy a quiet evening in front of the TV. You might find yourself yearning for your pup to snuggle up and snooze beside you, but guess what? They can be calm and relaxed without actually sleeping.

The same goes for when you sit down to savor a delicious meal at the table. You may wish for your puppy to curl up and nap so they don’t pester you, but rest assured, relaxation can be achieved through simply chilling out. You don’t need to have a sleeping puppy in order to keep a dog from steeling food from the table.

Even when we have guests over or when the kids are in full play mode, we hope our puppies will find their inner Zen. But hey, let’s cut them some slack. Relaxing doesn’t come naturally to these little balls of energy, and it takes time for them to master the art of being calm and relaxed.

How to teach your puppy to relax

One easy way we can help our puppies learn to relax is by reinforcing their calm behaviors. Remember, behavior that gets rewarded tends to repeat. Puppies learn by association. So, whenever your pup displays signs of calmness—such as lying down quietly or resting peacefully—offer them praise, treats, or a gentle belly rub. With consistent reinforcement, they’ll soon associate relaxation with positive experiences and be more likely to repeat those serene moments.

Side note: you will want to keep your praise, treats, and affectionate patting low-key. If you are enthusiastic, you will disrupt the calm puppy behavior you are trying to achieve.

Another helpful technique is teaching your puppy to “go to place.” This involves introducing a more formal training plan where you designate a specific spot or mat for your pup to settle down. By teaching them to associate this special spot with relaxation, you’re providing them with a clear cue to unwind and decompress.

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Teaching your puppy how to be relax is an essential skill. It helps puppies calm amidst the chaos of daily life. It’s important to understand that puppies lack self-control and impulse management skills. We have to help our puppies as they gradually develop this skill.

Teaching puppies to relax is a journey. It requires patience, consistency, and a whole lot of puppy love.

So, next time you feel yourself becoming impatient with your puppy because you want them to just settle down, remember, they don’t know how to. Now, go forth and help your puppies find their inner Zen while embracing their natural exuberance.