My dog won't settle - teaching your dog to be calm and relaxed

26 May 2023

Why teach a dog to settle? Watch our video and read our step by step guide to find out below.

A dog lies sleeping on a sofa

Teaching a dog that won’t settle to lie down when asked on a mat or dog bed gives them and you time to “switch off” and chill out.

Giving time for your dog to settle and relax allows Glutamate, which is linked with brain development, cognition, learning and memory, to rise. It also releases Dopamine, which makes them feel good.

Read our step by step guide on teaching your dog to settle below.

Step one

Place a mat, blanket or a towel on the floor so the dog has somewhere comfortable to lie down. Allow the dog to go over to the blanket and investigate.

Reward the dog whenever they investigate or go near the mat. Reward them by throwing treats on the mat instead of giving them from your hand to help build a strong association that the mat is a good place.

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Step two

To progress, reward the dog when they have two paws on the mat and gradually build this up to them having all four paws on the mat. Repeat this until the dog is comfortable to walk over and stand on the mat.

Step three

Once the dog is comfortable to stand on the blanket, ask the dog to lie down and then reward them.

Step four

Once your dog goes to lie down on the mat whenever you get it out, wait for the them to rest their head on the mat before rewarding.

Step five

Build up some duration for lying on the mat, do this by delaying reward for a couple of seconds initially and then increasing this at your dog’s pace. Don’t go too quickly or your dog might get up!

Step six

Once your dog is comfortable lying on the mat with you next to them, gradually increase the distance between you and the mat, moving one step away and rewarding them for staying on the mat.

Step seven

Gradually include distractions and practice in different locations, using your dog’s mat as a cue to settle.

This exercise should be calm and collected, practice at a time when your dog is already tired, encouraging calm behaviour from your dog.

Remember to go at your dog’s pace. If they move away from the mat or break their down position go back a step and lure them back into position.