My family owns a one year old pet Visla named Rivet. He has always had energy out the wazoo, sometimes it can be fun but other times it is just plain annoying. Does anyone have any ideas on how to control the energy? My goal is not to eradicate the energy at the source but rather train him to calm down on command.

3 Answers 3


Finding an outlet for energetic behavior is a great way to achieve a calmer dog. Making a habit of walking/jogging your dog regularly as well as engaging them with a task such as a dog sport or job can channel this energy. This could include dog agility, obedience, hunting, hiking and backpacking and much more. Primal Pooch has a thorough list of dog activities by category. Vizslas are active dogs and typically require more than a 30 minute walk daily. Taking an hour or more to exercise a vizsla daily is necessary in order to achieve a calm dog state of mind.

Once an activity has been found, it is important to only reward wanted behavior. It may sound obvious, but many owners inadvertently encourage excitable behavior. For instance when a dog is excited to go on a walk as soon as the owner grabs the leash the owner may reinforce excitable behavior if he immediately takes the dog on a walk. It is important to wait for your dog to calm down before rewarding him with something he sees as enjoyable such as a walk. This encourages active behavior not excitable behavior.

According to FernDog Training, it is important to be sure your dog is actually calm when he is rewarded. The ASPCA suggest looking for clues such as when the dog sits, rests with his ears back and relaxed or relaxes his mouth Learning more about dog body language can help assure your dog is in a calm state of mind.

Once your dog is acting calm you reinforce the behavior with an enjoyable activity or/and treat. If the dog is still overly excitable and restless it is possible your the dog needs more regular exercise or more vigorous exercise. This will help maintain a healthy active dog that will be athletic as well as calm.


My goal is not to eradicate the energy at the source but rather train him to calm down on command.

Before you start, decide what you want the "calm" command to be called. I use "settle down". Also decide if you want this command to have your dog sit or lay down, but one or the other is best.

It is really hard to start training if your dog is super hyper already, so start when he has a medium or low energy level. If he is not up already, call your dog to come to you.

Have your dog sit/down as you preferred. Have him stay there, and just watch him. You have to be careful to watch, because I have found dogs to try to "do ALL the things I know" in hopes of a reward. When your dog is calmer IMMEDIATELY, say the command softly and gently, and praise him softly, gently, smile wide, and pet softly, gently, methodically. Of course, your dog is not going to go from shaking in excitement to silent statue the first time, so just watch for improvements, and build from there.

Keep repeating the process and gradually you'll be to the place where you only need to say the command, and only give praise when the dog does so. If the dog does not calm down, it is very important not to give up. Just wait, even if it means standing awkwardly at a street corner for five minutes. Remember to use the command in different situations, so that your dog can perform in the house or if meeting a baby in the park.

Once your dog knows the command, you can also teach your dog similar commands like "be gentle", or "be nice" when accepting treats or interacting with others (say, children).

He has always had energy out the wazoo, sometimes it can be fun but other times it is just plain annoying.

A lot of times dogs are excited because their owners are excited. (And often it is because the dog is excited). It's a vicious cycle.

It always helps for you to be a more predictable, calmer, more confident person as well. Your dog will notice and be less anxious. Dogs also really like schedules, so if you're more of a spontaneous person, being more ritualistic can help a dog be calmer, because he know what will happen next. This is never an answer anyone expects to hear, but it is very true.

Of course, it can only do so much. Dogs have pent up energy, too, and walks are what will take your dog from an 11/10 on the energy scale down to a 5. The calmer, more confident, more scheduled/ritualistic can take him down to a 3 or 4. Generally speaking, of course.


Ever seen The Dog Whisperer? Cesar is full of advice on the use of calm energy. Here is a super-distilled summary:

  1. Begin with exercise to burn off the dog's excess energy. Do this before attempting to train so that he/she won't be too excited to pay attention to you. (Do keep your dog hydrated though!)

  2. Maintain a state of calm in yourself. Dogs are extremely empathetic, so when they observe your calm state, it will be easier for them to attain it themselves.

  3. Do not give a reward unless the dog is in a calm state. If he's sitting calmly, but leaps up when he sees the treat, pull it back! He needs to understand that he does not take the treat from you, you give the treat to him.

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