Dog Behaviour

5 steps for a calmer dog in the garden


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Have you ever taken your dog out to the garden for a relaxing time but ended up shouting “QUIET!” more times than you can count?

Whether it’s the neighbours walking by, other dogs strolling past, or just the noises your dog can hear in the distance, these distractions can turn your peaceful garden time into chaos. But what if I told you, with a few easy tricks you can turn garden time relaxing quite easily?

By the end of this post, you will have a plan for how to manage and train your dog in the garden. Sounds good?

Let’s get started with the first tip!

Create a Pee and Poo Zone

Yep, you head me right! Your dog doesn’t heed the whole garden to do their business. 

One of the first steps in creating a calm garden environment is to establish a designated pee and poo zone. This area should be situated away from common triggers if you can, such as back fences or neighbouring gardens. The aim is to create a space that’s easily accessible but blocks out any visual triggers your dog might see. 

Use a puppy pens with tarpaulins stapled to it, or go down the more permanent road and create a fence or a hedge to block the view. This set up will help your dog be calmer when going out for a quick pee or poop, and it’s especially important when you are not around to help them.

Limit Garden Time – To start with

I get it, this might sound contradictory but stay with me.

Keeping garden time to short, calm visits will reset their learned behaviour of barking and fence running. We want to teach them that the garden is for calmness, and doing your business, nothing else. Gradually increase the garden time as your dog learns to relax and stay calm.

Keep some music or the radio on

No, you don’t need to have a disco… but if noises are the main trigger for your dog, put on some nice music or a podcast when you are out together. This means your dog will more likely relax and fall asleep, which in turn mean you’ll be able to stay out there for longer, and you will have more chances to reward calmness. 

Give your dog a job

Calming activities are amazing to use in the garden!

They will keep your dog occupied and counter condition any noises they can hear at the same time. This means, your dog is training themselves to stay calm while you do some gardening. Cool, right?!

Kongs filled with raw food, lick mats with some squeezy cheese or scatter feeding are all effective ways to keep your dog busy and boost their calmness and optimism at the same time. 

If you enjoy gardening, you can also teach your dog to stay on a bed, associating your presence and garden activities with calmness. This also gives you a portable calm space that you can move around so they’re close to you at all times. Give your dog a Kong or a lick mat on the bed for a double whammy of calm activities!

These “jobs” give your dog a purpose and help them focus on something constructive rather than reacting to every movement or noise. 

Gradually increase unoccupied time in the garden

Once your dog can handle short, calm periods where they have a job to do, start extending the time they spend in the garden without any activity. Reward calm behaviour with treats, or praise, to reinforce them when they choose to lie down. ALWAYS reward when they hear noises or see movement to counter condition these triggers. 

Be patient, as this process takes time.

Slowly, your dog will begin to see the garden as a calm place, reducing the likelihood of zoomies or incessant barking. This gradual increase in relaxation time ensures that your dog can enjoy the garden without becoming overstimulated, and you can start relaxing together from day one. 

By following these strategies, you can transform your garden into a serene space for both you and your dog. Whether your garden is large or small, these steps will help your dog enjoy outdoor time in a peaceful and controlled manner. With patience and consistency, your garden can become a calm space where your dog can relax and enjoy the outdoors together with you.

If you would like to learn how to teach your dog to stay calm on a bed, sign up for my FREE mini-course, where you will learn this and much more.

Happy garden time!

Here are some other posts that you might like to read next: 

The super fibre in your garden that you think of as weeds! 

From chaos to calm: How Vashj learned to relax around kids and outside

1% change per week is 52% change over a whole year!

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My mission in life is to empower dog mums with the right tools and knowledge so the can take their dogs from stressed and barking to calm and confident. With my unique method I will help you understand your dog better so you never have to feel frustrated or confused ever again.

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