Want a dog who will settle down quietly when you're enjoying your refreshing cup of coffee in the local cafe? Here's how to teach your dog to chill.
As the owner of a full of life Springer Spaniel I love my dogís energy and joyfulness. But as much as I love his enthusiasm, for both mine and his sanity, itís important that he can also settle down and relax.
Having a dog that has learnt to relax is very important. And teaching them to do this on cue provides space for both of you. When you're busy doing things at home such as making dinner, cleaning, working or even entertaining guests the last thing you want is your dog being under your feet.
And if like me, you love your dog to join you when you are out socialising, then itís really important that they learn to settle and relax in any environment.
Any dog can be trained to settle on cue. Some laid back dogs will learn this very quickly whereas more exuberant or young dogs may take a bit more time. As with any training donít rush, take your time and remember consistency is key.
Your goal is to have a dog that will lie down in any environment, relax and not get distracted by whatís happening around them.
7 Steps To The Perfect Settle
1. Set yourself up for success
Start the training at home where there are no distractions for you or your dog. As your dog progresses you can take the training up a notch by going outside the house where thereís more going on.
Start by having your dog on a leash. Place your dogís bed or mat next to where you are sitting. Start by dropping treats onto your dogís bed so that your dog associates the bed with a treat. This will encourage them to come to the bed. When your dog getís on to the bed, say nothing and drop very small treats on to your dogís bed. Do this without saying anything or making a fuss.
2. Build The Behaviour in Incremental Steps
Gradually start looking for more relaxed behaviour. For example if your dog is in a sitting position reward lying down. If your dog has started in a down position, reward if they drop a hip to one side, put their head down on their paws, sigh or lie flat out. Depending on your dog they may go through all these positions or go straight to lying flat out. Reward whenever they demonstrate a more relaxed position.
3. Reward Little Steps
If your dog doesnít come to the bed or just sits there staring at you, then reward even smaller moves towards what you want. For example if they are pulling on their lead reward them when they release the pressure, if they are staring at you reward them for looking towards their bed. Be patient and look for small responses to start with. Your dog will eventually get the idea.
4. Expect More
As your dog becomes more settled space the rewards out so they have to stay longer in the relaxed position to get the reward. Spacing should be built slowly by a few seconds at a time and over a number of training sessions. If you want to add a voice command to this behaviour wait until they are effectively giving you a relaxed position and then add your command such as "settle" as you are giving them the treat.
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