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11 - Practice calm containment

11 - Practice calm containment

As the puppy gains confidence in your handling skills, you can begin to teach him to accept restraint but this must not be rushed. This important exercise has far-reaching benefits – children or even adults may be compelled to throw their arms around your dog and hug him. Hopefully you will be able to teach your friends how to approach dog respectfully so this unlikely to happen, but it is better to be safe than sorry. The exercise is also a useful foundation skill if you want to put a harness on your dog.

Here's how it's done

  1. Kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels. Place the puppy between your knees and thighs with him facing away from you to reduce the chances of him jumping up at your face.
  2. Put your heels together to form a V-shape so that the puppy cannot reverse.
  3. Keep your arms relaxed and place your open palms lightly on the pup’s chest.
  4. Go with his movement: if he tries to walk forward, gently draw him back to you, keeping your hands relaxed, and contain him in the original position. The aim is to create a mobile barrier, not to pin him to one spot.
  5. Some dogs accept this very quickly but others continue to wriggle. Stay calm and keep repeating the gentle containing movement until your dog relaxes and is happy to sit quietly with you.

You only need to contain the puppy for a few moments before you let him move freely around the room or garden. If he jumps out of your arms and starts playing with your hands, re-direct the play behavior onto a suitable toy. Repeat this exercise a few times and keep the session short, talking quietly using long, low syllables to induce calm.

Keeping your hands soft, cup the puppy gently around the chest

Containing the older, bouncy dog

Run your hands gently over the dog’s body to see if he is concerned by contact around his hindquarters. If he is worried about being touched here you may need to use TTouches to help him overcome this fear.

  1. Stand up and support your dog around his hip between your calves (and knees if he is large).
  2. Position your heels together so that they touch.
  3. Keep your knees and hips soft and avoid squeezing the dog tightly between your legs.
You need enough connection through your legs so that he cannot wriggle free but is not alarmed by being contained in this way.

From 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog, Copyright by Sarah Fisher, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with D & C

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