Teaching a Settle

09/02/2022

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TEACHING A SETTLE

Relaxation and calm are the foundation for everything else you do. You want to help your dog to relax and calm at home and, later, out on walks. You are aiming to reduce their overall level of arousal so they can think more clearly.

There are lots of relaxing activities you can do with your dog. A good starting point is to teach your dog to rest on a mat, regardless of what is happening around them.

First build value in going to the mat. Choose a quiet location and a mat that is unknown to your dog. Make a big show of placing the mat on the floor in front of you. Your dog will probably come over to investigate.

As soon as they step on the mat, mark and then throw a treat a little away from the mat to reset. Wait for your dog to come back and repeat.

Ask for a little more each time. One paw on the mat, two paws, three paws, all paws. Your dog will soon learn that the mat is a great place to be.

Once your dog is consistently returning to the mat, wait to see if they will offer a sit or a down. If not, cue it until they automatically choose to sit or lie down on the mat.

You can then start to build duration by pausing before you mark and treat and then add distractions.

Start by stepping to one side and then back. If your dog stays in place, treat them. Then take two steps. Then try running on the spot. Then walking all the way around your dog. Eventually you can even build in leaving the room and coming back. Always work at your dog’s pace. If they move, you are going too fast. Go back a step and do more practice.

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