‘Settle Exercise' - a calming, impulse control exercise
This is an exercise in leadership, acceptance, and patience. We are exercising our leadership by controlling one of our dog’s most valuable resources: Freedom of movement. There is no democracy in dog training. Good pack leaders decide when it’s time to rest, when it’s time to play, and when it’s time to travel. We’re giving the dog an opportunity to learn to accept their environment, and self-sooth by lying down on their own. This exercise also teaches patience, as the minimum duration of the exercise is 30 minutes. Complete this exercise at least once per day, for the next 30 days, and you will see an amazing overall positive behavioral change in your dog.
Best of all, this homework is easy to do. You can complete this training while doing activities you would normally do throughout your day. Whether you are eating a meal, reading a book, watching television, or working on your computer, you can practice the settle any time you plan on being seated and stationary for at least 30 minutes. Simply work it in to your daily routine.
To start the Settle, lay your leash across your seat, and sit on your leash without a word. This isn’t a down-stay, so there’s no
command given. Your dog should be wearing a fitted collar (that they can’t back out of) attached to a six-foot leash. Be sure that your dog only has enough leash that they could lie down if they so choose. If your dog can get up and wander around, you are giving them too much leash. Don’t get up and leave your dog back-tied. You are required to be present during the entire exercise.Your dog may get up and lie down several times during this exercise, but they must lie down at least once during the 30 minute period, or you need to keep sitting. There is no maximum duration for this exercise. If you want to sit for longer than 30 minutes, or need to because your dog hasn't gone down, feel free. Ignore your dog for the entire exercise. Ignoring your dog means don’t look at, touch, or talk to your dog. Just relax, and your dog will too.
The first couple of days are the most difficult. But with practice, each day will bring you closer to the desired response: Complete relaxation and acceptance from your dog. A really determined or anxious dog may be creative about freeing themselves from this exercise. Barking, digging, chewing on you, the leash, or your furniture is not tolerated. Don’t make a big show of frustration if your dog is doing any of these behaviors. Keep a squirt bottle handy, and if your dog is being unruly, squirt in their direction but continue to ignore them. Don’t get discouraged! This is part of the learning process. After the first few attempts at the settle, you will notice your dog accepting this exercise, and actually enjoying it.
Once your dog is happily flopping on the floor for their nap….Errr um, Settle exercise, at home, try this exercise at new locations.
Try your front porch, or a quiet park bench. If your dog knows how to settle down and be calm while you are otherwise occupied, they are less likely to cause trouble or be a nuisance when out about in the world. The settle is a very practical exercise, indeed!