The Off Switch

“Why isn’t my puppy calm? Why isn’t my dog cuddling? Why can’t my dog just be quiet?”

We teach our puppies the “Off Switch,” a valuable skill set that dogs (and humans) will find useful. The “Off Switch” is akin to the calm on command, and it can go by many other names or skill set. At home, we also call it, “Netflix and chilling” or the “Art of doing nothing.” The Puppy Culture group refers to it as “Puppy Taming.” Trainers who pair this behavior with a mat often call it “mat training” or “relax on a mat.” 

Dogs with this skill are able to mentally and physically self-calm and relax, and we intentionally condition it with our puppies. We set rules that couch time is quiet time, and calm behavior is rewarded with snuggles and the occasional snacks. This behavior can readily be transferred to new environments or onto a specific mat. 

Common routes we see to get “calmness are:”

Tiring the dog out physically. The thought is “if I tired the dog out, it will calm and relax without much effort from me.” Here’s why it doesn’t always work. 

1. You may inadvertently teach the dog to always be on and ready for physical activity. The dog is PRIMED for full velocity-jacked up activity all the time, because you’ve taught it that the higher energy they are, the more full throttle fun you will bring to the party. 

2. You still have to tire the dog out which can be difficult with weather and time constraints. If it is storming outside, and you have a dog exploding with energy like an ice cold liter of Pepsi packed full of mentos, you have a problem. 

3. Your dog may be physically injured and unable to physically exercise. Crate resting a high energy dog that has been taught to LEVEL up at every chance is a challenge. 

Getting the dog a playmate. Now you have two dogs that haven’t learned to calm. Oops. 

Why this is a useful skill: All dogs need age and condition appropriate physical and mental stimulation, and the amount will vary across dogs. After those needs are met, a dog that can calm on command is much easier to manage. You’ll thank us for the Netflix and chill sessions.

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