Activities For Dramatic Dogs

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Introduction

If you have a dramatic dog, you understand the struggle is real. Whether your dog's over-the-top flair finds its origins in hyperactivity, strong reactions to stimuli, or something else entirely, you know that finding activities that will keep your dog's brain and body engaged without pushing them over the brink and into "the insanity zone" is very important for them. Dogs with a penchant for dramatic responses tend to become overstimulated easily. When this happens, the dog is unable to control their emotions, and it can find its release in a way that is not healthy for your dog and can even be dangerous to others. The key is sourcing activities that Buddy will enjoy while still being able to remain in a peaceful state of mind. Can it be done? You bet it can!

Calm is Fun

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0 Votes
Any Day
Free
Normal
5 - 10 min
Items needed
Yummy, bite-sized treats
Activity description
Dogs who become overstimulated easily are often triggered by specific events or actions. For example, some dogs appear to lose their minds at the sound of a squeaky toy. The behavior evidenced can be quite frightening to an owner, especially if viewing it for the first time. Many find it difficult to believe that their sweet little Muffin could possibly act that way! When dogs respond to something in a dramatic fashion, it is important to note that what the dog is experiencing is actually stress, not joy. It is not healthy for your dog, and it is not healthy for other dogs who have to interact with them. With this in mind, one of the best things an owner can do for a dramatic dog is teach the dog some calming exercises. Calm is Fun is a game which rewards relaxed behavior. Since most dogs love treats, any game that means your buddy is going to get more of them is likely fine by them! The beauty of this game is, it has long term implications. When your dog learns that they get a reward when they display calm behavior, they are going to continue to offer it to you more and more in the hopes the treats will just keep coming. It's a win-win situation for you and for Buddy. You get better and more consistent behavior, and Buddy gets tasty treats!
Step
1
Choose your treat
The treat you choose will make or break this game for your dog. Since dramatic dogs reach high levels of arousal easily, it is important to first determine if treats are one of your dog's triggers. If so, choose a treat that is of sufficient value to motivate your dog to play with you but not of such high reward that your dog becomes "amped up," refusing to listen. If the opposite is true, choose a higher value treat to elicit the response that you are looking for.
Step
2
Pick your seat
Once you have selected the perfect treat for Calm is Fun, now it's time to choose the location where you will play the game. It is always wise to choose a locale that does not offer too many distractions in the beginning. You want to set your dog up for success, and a location like out front of your house where many dogs, children, and cars pass by is too great a temptation for most dogs. You want Buddy to be able to focus on you. There is no such thing as a "wrong" location. Simply select an area in your house or yard that is low traffic and conducive to focus work. In later incarnations of the game, you can increase the difficulty by going to places where the distractions are far higher.
Step
3
Teach the cue
Now it's time to teach the cue. You've chosen both your reward and your location. It's time to decide what action you would like your dog to offer in order to receive their treat. For some owners, it may be a calm "sit." For others, it may be a "down." Whatever behavior you choose, make certain to give it a clear and consistent name and to select an activity that is best done and maintained when in a calm state of mind. Assuming you've chosen "sit," ask your dog to "sit." When your dog obeys the given command and is calm, you can reward them with a treat. If your dog breaks the sit, refuses to do the behavior, or starts to become wired, end the game and try again tomorrow. In time, your dog will learn that being calm can be fun!
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Read to Me

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Any Day
Free
Easy
10 min
Items needed
Yummy Treats
A book you really enjoy
Activity description
Studies show that passive activities like reading reduce stress and anxiety in people. Could this work with our dogs as well? Absolutely! Best of all, you can couple your favorite activities together and enjoy a chapter of a beloved book with Buddy the dog right by your side. The object of this game is again to reinforce calm behavior. Since your pup's favorite thing in the whole world is spending time with you, it only stands to reason that they love to hear the sound of your voice as well. At least that's what we're counting on when it comes to this game! To help maintain a tranquil state, do not allow your voice to become overly animated when reading to your dog. You can feel free to use normal vocal inflections or even to speak in a tone that your dog knows is reserved just for them. What you want to avoid is any vocal sound that will cause Buddy's arousal meter to spike upwards.
Step
1
Select a great book
Choosing the book is half the fun. Whether you simply plan to read the biography that is taking up space on your nightstand, a children's book, or even the newspaper, all are well-suited to this game. Select something you enjoy reading, and this game gives you the power to double your fun. Make certain to read in an engaging tone, frequently stopping to ensure that Buddy's focus remains on you. Who knows? With sufficiently calm behavior under your pal's belt, you might like to pursue therapy dog work where they can take their reading act on the road to help children who are struggling to learn to read.
Step
2
Choose a comfy spot
With your book of choice firmly in hand, it's now time to find a comfy chair where you and Buddy can cuddle up and read. As with Calm is Fun, location is key to the success of this game. In early attempts of Read to Me, it is preferable to choose a low traffic area of your home as it will offer far fewer distractions for your companion, as they are just learning the ropes. A chair, sofa, or even just piling in your bed are all suitable options for a game of Read to Me.
Step
3
Read and relax
You've got your book, and you've picked your spot. Now the fun can begin! Begin by reading a selection from your book aloud. When your dog focuses on you, reward them with a small treat. Your pup will soon learn that "paying attention" while you read brings them great rewards, and they will soon come to love the behavior and the game.
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Teamwork Rocks!

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
6 ft obedience lead and flat collar
Yummy treats
Activity description
One of the best ways to help a dramatic dog is to get them involved in games which require training. Many over-the-top dogs enjoy dog performance sports or even learning simple tricks. Why? Because it provides them with an opportunity for one on one time with their favorite person in the whole world! But more than that, many dog breeds were purposefully bred to fulfill important jobs. In the absence of work to do, some dogs attempt to make their own "fun" which invariably gets them in trouble and earns them a truly undeserved moniker as high maintenance or even neurotic dogs. Though some dogs do suffer from chemical imbalances which render them slaves to impulse behavior, most dogs are simply needing more physical and mental stimulation in their daily lives. With this in mind, involvement in a teamwork sport can be a great addition to the lives of any canine and their best human pal. One of the most rewarding team-oriented activities you can do with your dog is Rally Obedience. Not as formal as competitive obedience, Rally allows you to talk to your dog and work cooperatively through a course to achieve a score. Best of all, you can earn higher marks for a dog who completes their "signs" with a spirit of enthusiasm. What does Rally do for the dramatic dog? It allows them to focus and engage their brain which helps settle their mind and restless body.
Step
1
Find a class
Finding a class with a great positive instructor is half the battle. The person teaching the class can make or break your dog's feelings about Rally. Your veterinarian or local kennel club may have suggestions as to who is the most fun and knowledgeable trainer in the area. Be sure to tell the instructor that you are working on teaching focus and calmer behavior. This will help your instructor tailor your instruction time to help meet your dog's needs.
Step
2
Buy the tools
The best thing about Rally is you can practice the things you learn anywhere. However, you do need a few basic tools. Formal Rally Obedience competition requires dogs to be on a flat collar that contains no dog tags or materials that will make noise. In addition to this, a 6 foot lead is also mandatory. Of course, you can't forget yummy treats!
Step
3
Go have fun
Once you've found the right class and purchased the necessary tools, you're ready to head to your first class. Then the fun can really begin. Rally is varied enough to hold the attention of even the most dramatic of dogs. Go at a slow pace, reward frequently, and don't be discouraged by seeming lack of progress. Your goal is simply to have fun!
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More Fun Ideas...

Leave It

Leave It is a great way to improve focus and reduce impulsive behavior in dramatic dogs. Start by putting a treat in each hand. With your dog seated in front of you, offer them one open hand with the treat clearly displayed and one closed hand with a treat inside. When your dog approaches your open palm, tell them firmly, "Leave it." When your dog backs away and ceases trying to take the treat from your open palm, you may then reward them with the treat contained in your fist. Your dog will soon learn to take their cues from you and that doing so will be richly rewarded!

Watch Me

Watch Me is a great way to teach your dog to focus on you. Shifting your dog's attention from something that causes them to get overly stimulated and back to you will reap great dividends for both of you. To play this game, all you need is a clicker and yummy treats. With your dog on a lead at your side and using your dog's name, say, "Buddy, watch me!" When Buddy looks at you, click and treat. In no time, Buddy will learn that calmly watching you is the ticket to success!

Conclusion

Owning a dramatic dog can be a lot of fun. After all, they are full of personality and always ready for an adventure. But dogs like this can become overstimulated very easily, and as such, it falls to their owners to set healthy boundaries for them. An over-the-top dog is not a happy dog, but that news doesn't mean that Buddy the dog is bound for a life of boredom. Quite the opposite! With a little creativity and a lot of love, Buddy can learn that calm behavior can be a lot of fun...and yummy too! Why not try one of these games with your dramatic dog today? Buddy the dog will thank you for it!