Imagine that immediately your pup, Bozo, hears the words,” Bozo, ‘settle’ “, he lies down quietly.
No more begging at the table, no more nudging you or leash pulling when you stop to visit a neighbor while on a walk.
It’s important to interrupt play sessions with Bozo even and especially when he’s very young. Uninterrupted play sessions quickly deteriorate into an out-of-control free-for-all; no good for pups or humans. So, from the beginning, stop the play sessions every 30 seconds or so for a couple of seconds only, then release him. Use ‘leave it’ to have Bozo release the toy or tug-of-war object and as he grasps (no pun intended) that concept, ask him to ‘settle’ just for a second or two to start. After 30 seconds, have him ‘settle’ again for 2 or 3 seconds.
Frequent repetitions of “Bozo, ‘settle’” followed in a few seconds by “OK” or “All Done” (or your release word) will make this learning happen quickly.
While you’re watching TV is another opportunity for ‘settle’. Have Bozo, on leash, on his mat or in his crate near you. Ask him to ‘settle’. Produce a peanut butter smeared ridged rubber chew toy – any stuffable chewtoy will work. I really like those cylindrical ridged rubber ones for settling purposes.
During the commercials, release Bozo for an active play session and then have him ’settle’ again when the program resumes.
You will want to work up gradually to those long ‘settles’ so do start, as always, with brief periods of ‘settle’ in the course of play periods.
Dogs do what works for them. If ‘settle’ is followed by play or ‘settle’ means a tasty chew toy or ’settle’ means a walk resumes, Bozo won’t be long figuring our how this works very well for him.
I don’t believe you can “over-praise”. DO give Bozo lots of affectionate encouragement for all the things he does when you ask. When he’s in a ‘sit, ‘down’ or ‘settle’, if you are female, do keep your tone and volume quiet when praising him. Women’s and children’s naturally higher pitched voices are great motivators. That’s useful when asking for activity… ‘come’, or ‘let’s go’ or ‘go, get it’ but needs to be softened and turned low for the non-active requests.
If you, like me, like to stop on a walk, sit on a park bench and enjoy the outdoors, having Bozo know ‘settle’ means you can sit for a while and he’ll be happy to rest awhile too, especially if you produce a settling stuffed chewtoy. I do suggest something other than peanut butter when going walkies. Peanut butter is so messy in your pocket! Be creative.
Frequent, brief interruptions in play, ‘settle’, praise, release. More play. Increase the ‘settle ‘time. Don’t forget to change locations. A settling toy will make it easier for you and more profitable for Bozo.
Sure, you can say, “ Bozo, go to your mat” but think about how many more places you can use ‘settle’.
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