Can your dog Settle?

by Sascha Cox // December 2017

Can your dog Settle?

We all love the idea of being able to take our dog with us when we leave the house. Often people dream before they get a dog of playing together and then relaxzing on the beach, or taking our perfectly well-behaved pooch over to a friends with us. However as many of us dog owners know, it’s not always that simple!

So come along to Dog School where we can help you with a ‘Settle’.

When dogs come into our classes, the first thing we teach them is a ‘settle’. This is essentially showing our dogs how to chill out and relax when we are busy and not able to give them all the attention they want!

The first step of a settle is choosing the right bed.

Their bed should be comfortable enough for them to lie on and also big enough for them to stretch out with a Kong / chew. The bed should also be big enough to allow you to drop some treats into it.

 

The next step is to choose your treats.

We need to use what we can in Dog School a “medium value” treat. This means somewhere between “high value” (your dogs absolute favourite treat in the whole world – maybe liver or chicken!) and “low-value” (one that your dog likes but isn’t particularly bothered about – such as dry kibble). A middle-value treat might be something like a dry treat with a filling, but it depends totally on what your dog likes! Remember to keep them small so your dogs don’t get too full and bored! If you’re worried about overfeeding just give your dog a little less at dinner time.

 

The next step is actually starting the settle.

Place your bed in the area you have decided to practice your settle (to start, perhaps at your feet in the living room while you watch TV). When your dog shows an interest in their bed (approaches it, puts one foot in etc.), drop a treat. Be careful that your dog doesn’t see that the treats are coming from you, as they may only learn to beg or stare at you for treats! Make it seem like they are ‘falling from the sky’ one at a time.

If your dog leaves their bed, don’t panic – they aren’t doing anything wrong, they just haven’t understood what is going on yet. When they come back and put a paw on the bed (or get in it!) throw down another magical treat.

Keep your treats appearing at regular intervals and try to drop them in the same place on the bed every time. As your dog starts to stay in their bed, you can slow down the treats and wait for them to sit or relax a bit more – then start to only reward when lying down and relaxing.

Once your dogs have relaxed, they may actually start to show signs of going for a nap – simply because they are now in a nice relaxed position. From here, verbal praise is sufficient –things such as telling them they’re a “good boy / girl” or “that’s lovely”. Your voice is important here as if you use a high pitched exciting voice, it may excite them again, therefore encouraging them to get up. Use a soft, low tone as this will keep their excitement levels down and keep them relaxed.

If you and your dog can get the hang of this exercise, then you know you can bring your dog to lots of great places and they will be able to chill out when you aren’t able to pay them attention. You can go to the beach, dog friendly cafes, restaurants and bars and even work (if your boss allows it).

If you would like help with learning this exercise, give us a call on 07715654650 or email us at nidogschool@dogstrust.org.uk. We have classes in Antrim, Belfast & Ballymena with different class times to suit busy schedules.

You can also follow us on Twitter @DogSchoolNI and Instagram  @dogschoolnorthernireland to see for yourself all the fun we have in class!