Lie Down and Settle
We’ve developed a new tradition at the weekends; we walk round our local country park and stop halfway for a coffee. The park Rushmere Country Park is lovely and the cafe is very dog friendly. So we sat and enjoyed our coffee. The girls were quite fidgety and restless for a bit, but then they settled down. There were a couple of other dogs there, left alone while their owners went to buy their drinks and one of these was slightly anxious and vocal. Chris asked me how you train a dog to cope with being left. So how do you do that?
As with all training, start slowly and build it up, being patient! You need to start with asking a dog to wait in front of you and gradually lengthen the time your dog can do this with you there. Then you start to go out of sight for a short period, lengthening this until the dog can cope happily. I will cover this process in more detail in the future.
Equally important for this kind of experience, is teaching your dog to settle down. This is similar, but not quite the same as teaching a ‘down’ and a ‘wait’. ‘Settle’ means “lie here in a relaxed way while I am busy doing something else”. Of course we want our dogs to do that all the time at home, while we are watching TV or working at our desk, but we also need to be able to instruct them to do it while we are out, if we are enjoying our coffee and don’t want to be constantly having to manage our dogs.
This might be a good point to say that if you have a labrador or practically anything apart from a collie, you might be wondering what I am making a fuss about. But I did hear of a dog (only part collie) that demanded to be played with all day, every day and was never left other than for short periods. Coping with inactivity is definitely a required skill.
Here’s my video – the world’s most boring clip, showing my dogs being settled. Of course Aura should have been rewarded for going down and pretending to settle, but I had run out of treats! What you are supposed to do is wait until they are settled and relaxed and then give them calm praise, a nice long stroke and a treat. I’ll work on that.
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