The power of doing nothing

Aug 8, 2023 | Dog language, Pedagogy and coaching

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It just happens that we, humans, always try to find new things to do with our dogs. A new activity, game, training method. We are chasing the latest developments in the dog training industry because we want to improve our dogs’ well-being and help them be happier dogs. 

What if we tell you that to reach these goals you can do absolutely nothing with your dog? Yes, you read it correctly. Doing absolutely nothing is a wonderful thing for dogs (and for you). 

Why is that so?

In this blog we explore six amazing benefits of doing nothing with our dogs.

1) Rest and relaxing

In the dogs’ ethogram (set of natural behaviours) we see a lot of rest and relaxation. By nature, dogs are rather slow animals. In fact, they spend more than half of their day inactive: sleeping, laying down, relaxing and watching the world go by. Now think – is this true for your dog? Do they sleep enough hours in one full day (12-14 h for a healthy adult dog)? 

If your answer is no, consider doing less – shorten the walks, include fewer activities and more calm during the day. This will help your dog rebalance their body and brain, sleep better and more. Check our blog on the importance of sleep to learn more on this topic.

Doing nothing is especially important after special / stressful events, such as going to the vets or an unusually long fun walk. 

2) Social rest in ethogram

Not only do dogs sleep and rest a lot naturally, they also prefer to do it together with their social group. Turid Rugaas, our incredible mentor and teacher, often tells us that the best thing to do with our dogs is to lie down and rest together. As simple as it is, resting together is a wonderful bonding experience and teaches your dog to be calmer at home. You can also add such moments of rest and simply being together with your dog to your walks. 

3) Creating calm context around you

Resting together with your dog also teaches them to be calm around you. You become a predictor of something pleasant and calm for them. As a result, it will be easier for your dog to keep cool  in more challenging situations when you are around. Magic, you say?

No magic, only learning principles! To illustrate this better, we will give a contrary example. Think of a friend or a family member who usually plays and gets your dog excited. How does your dog behave around them? And what about people who behave calmly around your dog?

Have you noticed how differently your dog behaves around calm and more active people?

Exactly, it’s much easier for your dog to stay calm around quiet people. Knowing this, you can now ask such higher-energy people to do nothing and stay calm around your dog, to help your dog behave calmer as well. To make it easier for people, try keeping them busy with a book or, more relevant nowadays, a phone.

4) Learning to be calm

When we think about doing nothing on walks, it usually means we choose a calmer place to sit down and quietly spend some time with our dog. Doing absolutely nothing, including no talking, no looking at the dog and no commands! This gives your dog a wonderful opportunity to practise calming down and staying quiet in different situations. Yes, doing nothing can be a real skill!

5) Time to process and learn

Such sessions of calm also give dogs a chance to observe the world around them and learn to cope with it (hopefully, you choose a long enough distance from any triggers, so your dog can learn in own pace). This is especially important for puppies and dogs coming from a shelter: they really need time to process and learn that the world around them is safe.

6) There are also benefits of doing nothing for us, humans!

When we stop for a calm session with our dog, take a moment to slow down, breathe, see the world around us and appreciate the bond we have with our dog, we engage in a sort of meditation. Meditating has proven health benefits for us, so why not do it more often? 

It’s a truly amazing tool and we recommend doing nothing to all dog guardians! 

To learn more about dog behaviour and get tools to help your dog become calmer, happier individuals, join us at the Level 1 course. Get introduction to dog behaviour, dog language and problem solving. We are starting already on the 14th of August! Learn more and join on this link: 

Further readings

What are calming signals

The importance of sleep for dogs

Apr 24, 2023 | Problem behaviour

What’s your Reaction?