Teach Your Dog to Settle

Teach Your Dog to Settle

Dear OgDog:

We just adopted a wonderful shelter dog. She is very well behaved and a joy to have around. The only problem we have is getting her to settle down. She constantly wants to play. We give her lots of attention, but it never seems to be enough. Any advice?

Kate’s family

Dear Family:

Congratulations on adopting a shelter dog! They make wonderful companions. Without knowing your dog’s history, it’s hard to speculate on why she requires so much attention from you. Many shelter dogs are insecure because of incidents in their past. Kate may settle down on her own as she develops more trust of her new surroundings, and you. In the mean time, you can help settle your hyper dog with the following exercise.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they first bring a new dog home is letting the dog run wild. They give the dog constant attention and let him follow them around the house. Then, of course the dog misses the people when they are away and gets super excited when they come home. If this sounds familiar, start practicing lots of little, quiet moments with Kate. This will really do her a favor. She will be much more content when you leave. It’s important to reward her when she is settled down. While she’s being calm, go over to her, calmly say “settle,” give her a treat (deliver it down, under her chin, so you don’t cause her to get up), and walk away, praising her for being quiet.

Another little trick to this training is to get your dog really excited and then have her settle down. The first time you do this, Kate will probablyl not settle down very quickly, but you should still repeat it. Get her really excited with an activity like fetch, or tug-of-war  and then have her settle down. By the fifth or sixth time you do this, she should go from level nine craziness to totally calm.

Another way to teach her to settle down is to have her on-leash in your home and have the leash fastened to your belt. This is called the umbilical-cord method. The dog will follow you when you move from room to room. When you sit down in front of the TV or computer, she will learn to settle down within seconds. This also is a terrific bonding technique and is a way to get your dog to focus on you. A great tool for really hyper dogs!

Teaching Kate to settle down can be very rewarding. She will learn not to pull on-leash while taking walks, visitors won’t have to worry about being jumped on by an excited dog, she will remain calm and well-behaved while home alone, and she will learn to respect your quiet time, by settling down when you want her to.


Raising Canine has a school for dog trainers which focuses on operant training for dogs, dog behavior, working with clients and addressing client compliance, and the science behind behavior modification.