Dear Miss Behavin’:
We have a new puppy and that is very active and doesn’t like to sit still or settle for very long. Is there something we can do to help our puppy learn to settle?
This is a great question and one that is often over looked by many owners, the ability for your pup to learn to settle. Teaching him to go to his bed or a specific spot and relax is my choice and it can be used in several situations, such as an outing, giving a nervous pup a familiar place, giving the persistent beggar somewhere to be and giving the enthusiastic greeter a place to go when guest arrive.
You will start by placing the mat on the ground in front of you and your pup. The second they step on it; you will mark and treat that behavior. Take a few steps away from the mat, return and repeat several times. Start to encourage a down on the mat by luring or giving a verbal cue. Now you will pick up the mat and move it to a new location and start over. Once your pup is getting the idea that the mat is where you want him, start to use a cue like ‘Go to your mat’ or ‘Place’ and then point at the mat. Continue to mark and treat as they step on the mat and offer a down, at this stage you may still need to cue the down, but be patient and they will get it. You will continue to build on sending your pup to the mat from a distance and increase the amount of time they are on it. Reinforce for being on the mat by using praise and placing special little treats on the mat. Remember that behavior that is paid attention to will repeat itself, be sure to pay attention when your pup is relaxing on the mat.