Firstly you want to ensure that your dog is ready and will enjoy settling in the environment you are heading to. Set your dog up for success. Give them a long walk, a good run or even a swim beforehand. This way they’ll be ready to settle.
A key element of settle training is to use a mat, enter The Sploot. Be consistent when asking your dog to settle by using the Sploot each outing. It’ll smell like home whilst providing a visual cue. It’s always best to practise at home first where there are minimal distractions.
Steps for settle training
- Lure your dog onto The Sploot or sprinkle treats onto it
- Every couple of seconds reward your dog when their belly is on the Sploot
- After 30 seconds or so, free your dog off The Sploot by rolling a treat away and then seeing if they want to return
- If your dog disengages you can try luring them back again
- Repetition is key!
- Build duration by decreasing time between your rewards
- Your dog is settled when its head is down and no longer looking for reassurance, encouraging this calm behaviour with occasional rewards.
- Distractions are amplified when in new locations. A visual cue, The Sploot and reassurance will help your dog to settle.
Top tip - Only use The Sploot settle mat when you are training
- New Environments
It’s best to gradually introduce new environments to your dog. For example, a cup of tea or a half pint instead of going for a 3 course meal. By gradually introducing settling in new places, you’re ensuring your dog is as comfortable as possible whilst creating positive associations.
- Body Language
Keep an eye on your dog’s body language. Anticipate anxious or agitated behaviour, if you spot these leave sooner rather than later. Look out for any excessive pacing, panting, yawning, barking etc. Always remember your Sploot!
- Combine With Enrichment
Bring enrichment in the form of long-lasting chews; tendons, yak chews, beef skin etc. Lickmats, K9 Connectables, Toppls and large Kong’s can be useful too. Remember to keep other dogs well away from your dog if they have a resource. We want to keep their stress levels nice and low by alleviating guarding behaviour and encouraging calm behaviour.
- Additional Considerations
Consider if a pub, cafe or restaurant is the best place for your dog; will your dog be ok when they see dogs in confined spaces, are they reactive, anxious or worried on walks? If so, then you’d want to work on those behaviours before you start thinking about settling your dog in new spaces. Creating space and distance from triggers is the best way to learn. Sometimes it’s kinder to leave your dog at home if they are happy to do so.
* To lure is to offer a reward
* A resource is anything a dog wants to guard, including you!
This blog includes expert training advice from Ella (Kirby Dog Training). Ella provides positive, modern, ethical dog training and behaviour to dogs and their humans.
You can follow Ella for more brilliant advice here.