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The Usefulness of "Settle"


A lot of people ask us how to STOP their dogs from doing something - a common one is barking at them when they stop to chat to someone else on a walk. Our advice is usually "reward a different behaviour - something you'd like them to do instead" and the best one is often "settle".

Settle basically means lie down and relax a bit. At first you can cue the down position if there's no way your dog is going to think of it on their own in that specific situation, but after a while, if you have a clicker trained dog who is used to offering behaviours before they're even asked for, if you reinforce the cued "down" they will eventually start trying it on their own.

You want to keep quietly reinforcing this position by feeding while they are lying down in a calm way, without clicking (which would tend to signal the end of the exercise). Over time you can start to increase the time between reinforcing so that they start to relax and don't try to get up and offer something else instead.

I use settle (no cue - its just what they offer) when at training with Rosie and Cruz. Myself and a colleague are trained by another colleague - and as we are all friends and like to chat and we are always learning interesting new things and need to listen to our instructor, we can't have our dogs bouncing all over the place. Bouncing is Cruz's default state, but you can see how he has learned that lying down while we chat at the start of the lesson is a worthwhile thing to do!


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Kommetjie Canine College

Kommetjie

Cape Town

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