Teaching your puppy to “settle down” is something essential. Though it may be fun to watch a cute little puppy run around everywhere, that behavior will soon hard to handle and there are situations where you need to get your puppy calm and relaxed.
Imagine you have friends at home or you are out at a restaurant or pub, then it is important that you can get your puppy to settle down otherwise it will be tough to bring it along. Being able to relax and spend time on its own is also good for your puppy and a puppy who is calm and relaxed will be able to concentrate better and is therefore easier to train.
In this post, I will go through how to teach your puppy to settle down and relax in various situations. The idea is to be able to stop your puppy’s excitement and calmly make him/her settle down whenever the need arises.
Start getting your puppy to settle down at home. This is easier because this is a place your puppy knows well and there are far fewer distractions than for example in the park where there are other dogs, people and new smells and noises everywhere. The aim is to get your puppy to lay down calmly without getting distracted by what is around him/her and without asking for attention.
There are several ways of doing this and it is good to practice “settle down” in different situations and places so that the puppy will learn to settle wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
When starting out it will be much easier if the puppy is relatively calm but once your puppy really masters this command you should be able to get it to relax and settle even if it is in an exited state.
You can start by sitting in a sofa or chair and then place a blanket at your feet. You then call your puppy over and make it sit or lay down on the blanket, use a command such as “settle” or “calm down” Once it is laying calmly you reward it with a treat. If your puppy gets exited again and gets up, repeat the process, using the command “settle” while gently pushing the puppy down. Once he/she is staying calm, you reward him/her again with a treat. You repeat this process over and over again until the puppy understands what the command settle means.
Now it is time to continue getting your puppy to settle in other situations, such as when it is not soo calm to start with for example during play sessions. You can stop the play session, make the puppy go to its mat and settle there. Once the puppy is calm and relaxed, you resume play sessions. If your puppy does not settle, you simply wait until it does. Do not give it any attention just wait until its relaxed and the resume play session. This will teach the puppy that being calm and relaxed will be rewarded with play.
Next will be to get your puppy to relax and settle in a situation where there are more distractions and noise around. You can for example try this when friends and family are around and then move on and increase the difficulty and try it out in public, like in a park. The thing is to do this gradually and make sure the puppy feels comfortable and is reasonably calm when trying to make it relax somewhere where there is more people noise and distractions around.
The state of mind of the puppy is of course very important when it comes to being able to settle and to relax. When the puppy really is nervous and stressed you can not make it relax and lay down right away, you will have to do it gradually, make her calm down until she can relax completely and lay down. Being able to read your puppy’s body language will help in determining your puppy’s energy level. This is done by keeping an eye on the puppy’s breathing, body postures and facial expressions. You can learn more about reading your puppy’s/dog’s body language here.
Your own state of mind is also very important when teaching your puppy to relax. You must be calm and relaxed yourself. Dogs are very sensitive to our moods and the puppy will feel your “energy”. If you are stressed and nervous there is no way your puppy will be able to relax either. The puppy will follow your example and the more you show your “calm energy” and self-confidence the sooner you will be able to make your puppy relax.
In order to make a puppy relaxed it is important that its other needs are fulfilled. For example a puppy who is not getting enough exercise will be very difficult to get calm and relaxed. Enough physical and mental stimulation is necessary in order to make this work.
Another thing that is very important is that the puppy feels safe and trusts the people around him/her. You can easily imagine this yourself. If you are among people you don’t know or don’t trust and feel comfortable around then it is very difficult to relax and settle down. The same thing goes for a dog or puppy, it needs to feel safe and trust the surrounding people.
If you put these tips to work I am sure you are soon going to get your puppy to relax. A puppy being able to relax on cue will be a lot easier to live with and it is also good for the puppy as it feel more relaxed and confident. Just remember to have patient and to stay calm.
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I hope you enjoyed this post and that you found it useful. If you have any questions or tips that you would like to share, please post them below.
All the best,