This is a question we hear a lot from our clients especially when they have highly driven working bred dogs, join us while we look at how to teach a dog to settle.

Dogs are naturally energetic and curious creatures, often bounding with enthusiasm and sometimes a bit too much excitement. While this exuberance can be charming, it can also lead to problems if your dog doesn’t know how to relax and settle down when needed. Teaching your dog to settle is an essential skill that promotes calm behaviour, reduces stress, and enhances their overall well-being. In this guide, we’ll explore effective techniques to help your dog learn to relax and settle.

Teach my dog to use its bed

Why Teach Your Dog to Settle?

Before diving into the how-tos, let’s understand why it’s important to teach your dog to settle:

  1. Improves Behavior: A dog that knows how to settle is less likely to engage in undesirable behaviors such as excessive barking, jumping, or destructive chewing.
  2. Reduces Anxiety: Teaching your dog to relax can help alleviate anxiety and stress, making them feel more secure and comfortable in various environments.
  3. Enhances Training: A calm and focused dog is easier to train and more responsive to commands.
  4. Strengthens Bond: Working on this skill together strengthens the bond between you and your dog, building trust and understanding.

Steps to Teach Your Dog to Settle

1. Create a Relaxing Environment

Begin by ensuring that your dog has a designated spot where they can relax. This could be a comfortable dog bed, a crate, or a quiet corner in your home.

2. Use a Mat or Bed

Train your dog to associate a mat or bed with relaxation. This helps them understand that when they’re on the mat, it’s time to settle down.

  • Introduce the Mat: Place the mat or crate in a quiet area and encourage your dog to go to it by using treats. Reward when the dog sits, stands or lays on the mat. Continue to reward if the dog stays there remaining calm. Remember dogs mirror our behaviour so make sure you are relaxed too.
  • Reward Calm Behaviour: Whenever your dog is on the mat or in the crate and calm, reward them with treats and praise. This reinforces the idea that calm behaviour is rewarding.

3. Teach a “Settle” Command

Introduce a specific command, such as “settle” or “relax,” that you will use to cue your dog to calm down.

  • Start with a Sit or Down: Ask your dog to sit or lie down on the mat. Use treats to lure them into the desired position if needed.
  • Add the Command: Once your dog shows the relaxation you are looking for, say the command “settle” (or whatever cue you want to use) in a calm, soothing voice.
  • Reward and Release: Give your dog a treat and calmly praise for staying calm. After a few seconds, use a release word like “okay” to let them know they can move.

4. Practice Patience and Gradual Duration

Teaching your dog to settle takes time and patience. Gradually increase the duration they stay on the mat or in the relaxed position.

  • Start Small: Begin with short periods of a few seconds and slowly increase the time as your dog becomes more comfortable.
  • Stay Calm: Remain calm and patient. If your dog gets up, gently guide them back to the mat and repeat the process.

5. Incorporate Settling in Different Situations

Once your dog understands the “settle” command at home, practice in various environments to reinforce the behaviour.

  • Different Rooms: Practice settling in different rooms of your house.
  • Outside: Gradually introduce the command in more distracting environments, such as the backyard or a quiet park.
  • Incorporate in your walks: Just stopping and standing still on a walk allowing our dogs to practice settling before moving on.
A relaxed dog is a happy dog

Additional Tips for Success

  • Consistency: Be consistent with your commands and rewards. This helps your dog understand what is expected of them.
  • Reward desired behaviour: Use positive reinforcement methods. Reward your dog with treats, praise, and affection for calm behaviour. Dogs repeat behaviours that are rewarding.
  • Stay Patient: Training takes time. Be patient and avoid getting frustrated if progress is slow.
  • Regular Practice: Incorporate “settle” training into your daily routine to reinforce the behavior regularly.
  • Crates can be useful: If your dog really struggles to stay in one place a crate can be a useful tool to help. Ensure you make the crate a valuable and safe place to be.


Teaching your dog to settle and relax is a valuable skill that enhances their quality of life and your relationship with them. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, your dog will learn to calm down and enjoy their moments of relaxation. Remember, a calm dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog makes for a happy home. So, take the time to teach your furry friend to settle – both of you will reap the benefits.

Person relaxing with a dog

Want to learn more about finding your dogs off switch? – Get in touch

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