Some dogs have it, others don’t. Some humans have it and others don’t. It’s a matter of temperament in a lot of cases for both but one thing is for sure; even if you don’t like “being still”, it’s a good skill to have. Eventually in life, you’re going to need it.
Now, as far as dog training goes, “doing nothing” and “going nowhere” are two different concepts in my mind and the difference is presented in the moment and in context to what’s going on and what you’re doing. I’ve had people come to me and say “I just want to have people come over without my dog pestering everybody to give him attention and play with him.” This is common, and very fixable. This dog needs the skill of “doing nothing”. In traditional obedience, this is called a “stay”. I don’t mean “stay for a few seconds on the edge of your seat until I release you to get your reward”. The way I teach stay is much more than a 10 second command… it’s a game changer for many. I like every dog that I come to train to have the ABILITY to hold a stay without fussing and breaking for up to an hour if I ask. Some might read that and think “my dog would never do that!”. If you thought that, I like you 🙂 and you should call me so I can show you how easy it is!
The skill of “doing nothing” (aka stay) is one that some dogs need to learn. Like any skill, when properly trained, it’s there when you need it.
So how does that differ from “going nowhere”?
For many, “going nowhere” is something very different.
Both rely on the same principle of impulse control and being calm and still, but how “going nowhere” differs is the context.
For my programs that focus on helping the dog owner enjoy walking the dog again, I focus on how the walk starts and stops. Many excitable dogs who pull on leash and fuss at other dogs have a few things in common; one being the raised level of excitement and arousal when the walking gear comes out. The jingle of the collars and leashes is typically enough to send most dogs into a mild state of fight or flight in the disguise of excitement. Really, this is stress in camouflage.
What I recommend is suiting your dog up and then grabbing a seat. If your dog is proficient with “stay” you can stay your dog as well. If not, simply have a seat and wait until your dog is calm. I don’t mean laying down while staring at you whimpering either. I mean on-the-floor-the-way-she-is-when-nobody-is-in-your-house-after-a-walk-and-dinner calm. Then, and only then, go outside. What your dog learns from this exercise is to be calm and things will happen, but anything less than calm and we don’t go anywhere. You’ll find after two weeks, if you have to sit at all, the excitement nonsense will last a few minutes (if you’re still encountering it at all).