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Chill Out Fido!


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What’s it About?

Does your dog go bonkers when the doorbell rings or when you grab the leash to take him for a walk? If you find your dog is often difficult to control, you are not alone! Getting your dog to calm down and relax is one of the most common challenges pet parents face. This two-part book will help you first identify the factors that cause this kind of behavior in dogs, then it provides you with eleven key training exercises to teach your dog how to calm down, pay attention to you, relax, and respond to every day situations with confidence and composure. Chill Out will show you how to help your dog become the great dog you always knew he could be.

Get results by learning about

  • The interrelated factors that can cause your dog’s over-active behaviours.
  • The impact that diet can have on your dog’s inability to relax.
  • The basics of modern positive dog training that are the key to solving these common problems.
  • How to reward your dog for relaxed behaviours—and avoid inadvertently reinforcing your dog’s wildness.
  • Step-by-step training exercises that deal with the most common situations where dogs tend to have trouble staying calm.BONUS! Trouble-shooting human training errors.

About the Author

Nan Kene Arthur DBC, CPDT, KPACTP, has been involved in the behaviour and training fields for more than fifteen years with both dogs and cats. She started her own business, Whole Dog Training after four years with the San Diego Humane Society.

Published 2009 Dogwise Publishing

Pages- 189

“Dogs are not typically sedentary creatures, but they don’t have to be hyperactive either. “Chill Out Fido! How to Calm Your Dog” is a guide for the dog owner who grows tired of their dog freaking out over daily things such as guests or the smell of meat. Advocating that these behaviors can be trained out of the dog, and offering tips to counteract or troubleshoot bad training, “Chill Out Fido!” is a practical dog training guide for any owner who wants to make their dog a more calm and lovable canine friend.” James A. Cox

“Do you know a dog who is unfocused, “hyper,” wild and crazy, stressed, unruly, out of control– a dog who never listens? Do you personally have such a dog or have some of them as clients? Nan Arthur, CPDT-KA and CDBC, has the requisite training and behavior knowledge reflected in Chill Out Fido! The following quote says it all: “… never a need for anything other than positive methods of training and behavior modification” (p. vii). Arthur may be the big sister everyone wishes they had: patient, encouraging, wise — a trainer who uses gentle, dog-friendly, science-based methods. The science is here, mostly in side-bars but also in the references and resources sections. Her lovely writing style explains the points a frustrated dog owner might bring up: Arthur fully counters everything in easy prose — her experience shows.

Chill Out Fido! is a Dogwise book, recognizable at a distance by the distinctive cover. In addition to the meat of the book there are 30 quick ideas to help you and your dog relax when you don’t have time to manage or train, a stress test for your dog, resources and references, 10 tips for going through the exercises (e.g., be realistic, be consistent, set your dog up for success), as well as a handy list of other Dogwise titles. This is that rare book that was written for the self-starter as well as for the dog professional (day-trainers and new professionals especially) since each procedure is spelled out in clear, easy steps from start to finish.

At first glance, Chill Out Fido! may appear rather simple, with four short chapters and eleven exercises, but I quickly became a fan. The chapter on diet alone was worth the price of the book (fully palatable for the non-scientist). Part one covers 14 reasons a dog may not be able to relax, how diet affects behavior, the road to relaxation (what is a calm dog, how they play, canine calming behaviors), and training concepts (markers, rewards [and fading them], reinforcement schedules, the voice as a tool, and body language). Part two consists of 11 exercises (problem behaviors), best tackled in order. Especially helpful for clients may be the sections on calm greetings, when the doorbell rings, getting out the leash, and paw desensitization.

Each exercise has the same format: goals, benefits, equipment, prerequisites (like solid sit), training time (so people don’t rush through, but instead build a solid foundation), getting the behavior started (in precise steps), building it and raising the bar (additional steps), and finally, problem solving if the steps need modification. Arthur teaches “relax” without a verbal cue and explains why: she will convince you to train a release cue if you don’t already , and Chill Out Fido! has converted me from “Click, treat” to “Mark, treat” — better for clients. And don’t forget to smile!

Chill Out Fido! will become a must-have book on every trainer’s shelf. I would have preferred a detailed table of contents (with subheadings), more references to the stress test, and tighter copy editing but these mere blemishes do not detract one iota from the profound change Arthur’s book will make in the lives of dogs. It is a new classic about “Dogs Gone Wild!” Skye Anderson, writes for Yankee Dog and other publications.


~~Do you despair over whether you will ever get your dog to just calm down and relax?

Hyperactivity in dogs is a common problem and leaves many owners feeling exhausted and not in control.

In this book, Nan Kene Arthur, an expert in training wild and unruly dogs, offers practical advice to help create the happy and relaxed canine companion you always dreamed of.

You will discover what factors lead to your dog becoming over-excited in the first place, and find 11 key training exercises to help calm your dog  and focus his attention on you.

Simple, straightforward and easy to read, the detailed step-by–step instructions to each exercise help to make the process of calming your dog easy and pain free.


Chapter one studies why it is that some dogs find it hard to relax.  It begins by looking at the underlying factors of wild and crazy behaviours which can occur as a result of either genetic or environmental factors. These factors include:

  • Breed differences
  • Early socialisation issues
  • Solo puppies
  • Impact of dog training methods
  • Impact of dog training equipment
  • Exercise – too much or too little
  • Lack of mental stimulation
  • Touching and handling
  • Respecting your dog’s boundaries
  • Sudden changes
  • Negative experiences
  • Diet
  • Social pressure from humans

The chapter concludes by looking at the role of stress and studying its physiological causes.

Chapter two looks at how diet can affect behaviour in dogs. Arthur looks at the type of foods that can be known to cause behaviour problems, such as overly-processed commercial dog foods and, in particular, the use of corn.  Corn is often used as a cheap protein source which can reduce the amount of serotonin in the dog. Arthur continues to give advice on how to avoid these types of food and how to identify a suitable alternative. Finally, she looks at how feeding regimes can have an influence on energy levels.

Chapter three, The Road to Helping Your Dog Relax, looks at how a calm and relaxed dog should behave. It begins by offering a profile of a calm dog, looking at their general behaviour and how they should play. Arthurs continues by explaining that the first step to creating a calm dog is to first decrease our stress as owners, giving us some techniques on how to do so. She carries on to look at the natural behaviours dogs use to calm down, which consist of calming signals such as tongue licking, sniffing the ground, scratching, yawning and so on. Arthur explains how once we have identified which of these behaviours our dog uses to calm down, we can reward and mirror this behaviour back to him, helping him to relax.

Chapter four,  Essential Training Concepts,  provides an overview of modern methods of dog training that are particularly effective with excited or unruly dogs. This includes positive reinforcement and reward-based training, as well as how to effectively use your voice and body language as a training tool.

Part two of the book provides numerous hands-on training exercises to help calm down an overly active or stressed dog.  These exercises help to relax and focus the dog, teaching him to pay attention to you and deal with everyday situations with confidence and composure.  Arthur also provides ten simple tips for success with these exercises.

Each of the exercises includes goals, benefits, what you will need, the amount of time you should allow and detailed step-by-step guidance of how to teach the exercise, including a section on problem solving.

These exercises consist of:

  • Relax on a mat: This teaches your dog to choose an acceptable behaviour when he is not sure what to do. Arthur recommends that this exercise is not taught on cue, but instead the dog will choose to perform the desired behaviour.
  • Name recognition: This teaches your dog to quickly respond to his name and engage with you, regardless of distractions.
  • Automatic eye contact: This teaches your dog to “check in” with you – that is, look to you anytime he wants something or is unsure about how to respond to a distraction. Like the first exercise this is not taught on cue, but is something your dog should choose to do in a variety of environments.
  • Sit and keep sitting: This is a new approach to the traditional exercise of sit stay that teaches your dog to stay in one place regardless of distractions. Arthur refers to it as a two-step process, getting the dog to sit and then increasing the duration of the sit.
  • Targeting to your hand:  This teaches your dog to touch the palm of your hand with his nose. It gives your dog something to focus on, other than what is going on in the environment.
  • Say hi for calm greetings: This teaches your dog to greet people in a calm  and quiet manner by developing the previous exercises of sit and keep sitting and targeting to hand.
  • The doorbell rings – just a minute: This exercise teaches your dog what to do and where to go after the doorbell rings, allowing him to greet strangers in a calm and controlled manner.
  • Getting out the leash:  This teaches your dog he must display an acceptable level of calmness, such as sitting or standing by you quietly before the door opens and he can be rewarded with a walk.
  • Calm loose leash walking: This exercise helps your dog to understand that walking calming on a loose lead will enable him to get to his destination quicker than if he were pulling like a train.
  • Keep calm while being handled: This teaches your dog to keep calm and relaxed whilst being handled by other individuals, which can often be one of the biggest behavioural problems.
  • Accepting restraint: This teaches your dog to feel calm and confident whilst being handled and restrained by others, such as at the vet and groomer.

Also included is a recommended reading list, a stress test for dogs and thirty quick tips to help you and your dog relax when you don’t have time to train.

This book is an essential tool for anyone struggling with an over excited dog.  Nan Kene Arthur has created “a practical dog training guide for any owner who wants to make their dog a more calm and lovable canine friend.”


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