Train your dog to settle

"Settle" is simply another name for an extended down cue. However, it is often used as an "off" switch for dogs that are a bit too exuberant, mouthy, or wild. There are many strategies to get a good Settle cue. 

I recommend that you first work in a calm manner at first and periodically ask your dog to "Settle" during training sessions. You should then continue practicing when your dog is more excited until you can eventually get the behavior reliably no matter how excited your dog is.

If you ask for the behavior and your dog is too excited or is not motivated to do it, gently help your dog into position by luring the behavior with a treat or walk away from your dog until he calms down. Then, work at a more calm level the next time until you are able to successfully get the behavior at any time. 

There are a few general strategies for teaching behaviors and here are some suggestions to help you get started teaching this behavior. 

Shape a Settle

  1. When your dog is lying down, gently pet him and give him treats
  2. If he gets up, you can either ignore him or ask him to lie down again and then pet him and/ or give him treats
  3. Say the cue, "Settle" after he is fairly calm and then continue petting and treating occasionally
  4. Release him at some point, "OK" and stop petting him
  5. Whenever you see him lie down, give him more attention and/or treats. This will motivate him to do that behavior more often.

Cue or Command Settle

  1. This is the same as above, but you will cue your dog, or ask him, to do the behavior
  2. Say the cue, "Settle" or "Enough" and then ask him to lie down and periodically pet him and/or treat him
  3. If he gets up, gently say, "Eh! Eh!" ask him to lie down again, and pet him and/ or give him treats

Speed Settle

  1. This is the final goal
  2. Work with your dog practicing a short training session or a game of tug
  3. Say, "Settle" and stop moving, interacting with him and put your hands behind your back
  4. Ask him to lie down and then treat him
  5. Work with him a bit more and repeat the "Settle" cue, but require him to lie down and settle for a longer period of time
  6. If he gets up, you can say, "Eh! Eh!" and ask him to lie down again, or say, "Too bad!" and walk away from him. Eventually he will learn that to continue playing with you, he needs to turn it off when you ask.

Keep in mind that you can turn this into a game by using a lot of enthusiasm and excitement when your dog performs the behavior. You can also reward your dog by throwing his favorite toy. 

Have fun with it and use it periodically throughout the day and reward with a variety of rewards such as throwing a toy, playing tug, taking your dog for a walk, giving a belly rub, feeding dinner, etc.

Latest Blog Posts

Let's talk about corrections in dog training

While working with a private client recently, we ran into another local Chicago trainer. It was interesting, because we were both teaching our clients the exact same lesson, using different...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2010-12-20 19:37:38
  • Hits 11259

Teach emergency stop

On Friday I met a client for the first session and met his wonderful 1.5 year old Labrador Retriever named Riley. Our session ended after some fantastic leash work, placement cues and some work on...

  • jeff-millman
  • 2010-12-21 03:50:21
  • Hits 8433

Do not ask an aggressive dog to sit

I work with dog-dog aggression a lot. I get lots of practice in the congested city of Chicago, and I use techniques that work. As with any training topic, there are many competing strategies out...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2010-12-28 21:32:17
  • Hits 49833

Don't repeat cues and other dog training tips

Just some quick thoughts to make your life as a dog trainer much easier. After training thousands of dogs, it still amazes me how the little suggestions can make the biggest difference.
  • Jeff Millman
  • 2010-12-30 19:22:30
  • Hits 27911

Dog training myths

There are so many dog training myths perpetuated by old school techniques, bad trainers, or trainers that do not give their clients the benefit of the doubt and "dumb down" everything into simple...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2010-12-29 19:37:00
  • Hits 10736

Tips to train your dog to come

I realized that I never taught my dogs what "Come on guys let's go for a walk" meant. That was many years ago, and since then I have taught them that, but it reminded me of the importance of...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2010-12-30 21:35:06
  • Hits 10513

Find time for dog training in your busy schedule

Everyone is busy. My wife and I have a wonderful new baby boy and it is challenging to find time to work with my dogs, satisfy all of my client's expectations and have time to breathe. I am sure you...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2010-12-31 22:14:00
  • Hits 15310

Summer dog training tips

As we approach summer, it is important to think about keeping your pooch safe. I live in Chicago where I have some unique things to worry about (such as dogs getting stolen out of cars), but...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-04-06 12:19:00
  • Hits 26922

Choke chains can increase dog aggression

I got a sad call from a new client recently. She said her dog was showing signs of dog-dog aggression and, from the advice of someone in the dog park, she hired a trainer that uses choke chains. She...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-01-01 18:49:00
  • Hits 14207

What to do if your dog growls at you

It is so important to gently handle your dog throughout his or her life. I received a typical call a while ago from a client that is afraid because her dog growls when she puts on his harness.
  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-01-02 23:07:00
  • Hits 61916