Settle the Dog aka The Art of Doing Nothing
Teach your dog how to
behave at coffee shops!
Settle the Dog, aka The Art of Doing Nothing, is an exercise that often feels like you are "doing nothing" with your dog. This is not to be confused with teaching a down-stay. This exercise requires that you let your dog figure out on his own to ignore any distractions, lie down, get quiet and comfortable, and to be ok with being bored. This also helps your dog realize that you are the one who decides where the two of you will be and for how long. Your dog will learn that there are times you will not be able to entertain him and he will be expected to calm down and be well-behaved.
Settle the Dog is deceptively easy and should be practiced for a minimum of 30 minutes, every day. It is best to practice this under low distractions after your dog has been exercised and is tired. During this exercise, you can occupy your time by reading a book, working on the computer, or watching something quietly on TV. Have everyone in your family take a turn.
Attach a leash to your dog. Allow your dog only enough leash so that when your dog decides to, he can lie down quietly at your feet. For large dogs or dogs with severe behavior issues, you may want step on or stand on the leash, close enough to your dog so that his movement is limited.
Do not have your dog sit or down. Do not touch or talk to your dog, ignore him. However, if your dog climbs up on you, chews the leash, mouths your hand, or any other behavior that is equally unacceptable, calmly interrupt the behavior.
The 30 minutes begins once your dog settles and is lying down. Continue to ignore him. During the first couple of days, really determined dogs will throw everything at you, going through all kinds of behaviors. When none of the behaviors win them their freedom they will literally throw themselves down, give a loud protest sigh and refuse to look at you. Your dog may get up and down during this time. Remember to not help your dog, continue to ignore him. Be patient, your dog will soon learn to quietly settle at your feet.
The 30 minutes ends only if your dog is lying down. Release your dog by dropping the leash and walking away. Once your dog has mastered this, you can move around the room, but remain in the room. Repeat until your dog is ok with this. The next phase will be to work on leaving the room for a few minutes at a time, slowly increasing the amount of time until your dog can remain quietly resting for 30 minutes.
Practicing this exercise will give your dog the gift of self-confidence, balance,
and calm "doggy zen"!