Trainer reveals simple thing you can do to help your dog stay calm on a walk

Happy dog stood on mountain trail
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What happens when you follow professional advice to exercise your dog before you walk them to get them into a calm state of mind, only to find that the additional exercise makes them more hyped up on the walk instead of less?

It's a situation that a lot of pet parents find themselves in, so if you're currently feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out how to calm down a hyper dog, rest assured, you're not alone. 

For many dogs, the advice to exercise them before you walk them actually does the opposite of what many trainers hope it will do — overexciting them rather than calming them down.

Thankfully, expert trainer Julianna DeWillems has shared a real-life training example on Instagram where she troubleshoots this exact issue with a dog she's working with. Read on to find out how she gets them to go from excited play mode to calm and focused mode...

"After I feel like he's got his wiggles out, I start doing Leslie McDevitt's up-down game to help him begin to focus," explains DeWillems. 

If you've never heard of the up-down game, it's really simple and involves you rewarding your pup with the best dog treats whenever they give you their attention.

Once DeWillems has played this game for a few moments, she practices some easy, well-known cues. 

"This continues to transition him to learning and thinking mode, plus it gives me helpful data about his responsiveness," she says.

"Lastly, I also bring a towel outside with me to do just a minute or two of settling. I support him through this, I don't force it, and I find that even a little bit of this helps him continue to calm down."

This entire process takes just a few minutes after which the once super-excitable Poodle is now able to stand calmly in front of DeWillems, something that tells her he's in a good place to start the walk.

It's important to remember that all dogs are different and training any new skill or behavior takes time, patience and consistency. If you'd like some help with teaching your dog how to calm down before going on a walk, we recommend reaching out to a professional.

Check out this guide to how to spot dog trainer red flags to ensure you're working with someone who is suitably qualified and uses positive training methods. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.