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The Art of Settling Down

"You're getting a Border Collie? You know how much energy they have." - Everyone upon hearing I was getting a Border Collie "Yes, I am getting a Border Collie and I am aware." - Me in reply with a grin

What am I talking about? Settling down, the art of settling down, the way your dog can lie down on their own, self-soothe to the point they don't need you, and they becalm themselves.

Still somewhat confused?

So read over this little bit:

During my herding lessons Jim and I spent some time talking and Bella is expected to be lying down, while we talk and discuss concepts, reasons why Bella worried in a particular situation or why her outrun was too tight.

Bella and Addi sitting on a blanket taken by Isora Lithgow Creations
Bella and Addi sitting in the yard
No fuss.
No working.
No "having" to touch me.

Small tangent here: My partner and I have been going out again and I noticed that A LOT OF dogs cannot function in public places unless they are touching their human...if they are not, they are usually antsy and nervous, and you cannot even hold a conversation without being interrupted by your dog. Don't you want to be able to bring your dog places? Comfortably? Without worry?

Learning how to be a shepherdess is incredibly rewarding, taxing and the relationship that I am forming with my Border Collie is to jump off cliffs for. The amount of respect I have for her and her abilities, I have from her. Our herding and working on the farm is strengthening that respect, and I have the ability to work with her at distances (currently ~250ft) where most dogs would blow their owners off.

Phil, a boarding dog and residential training client stayed with us for a couple of days in August 2022. This picture was taken by Addi von Eynern.
Phil is at the Pool

But I am getting ahead of myself. How is this related to settling, and why should you actually care? You do not want to go herding with your dog. You might even want your dog to STOP herding you, your family or neighbor's dogs.

So why am I rambling on about herding, respect and how my Border Collie appears to be the perfect dog?

Because you can ask for the same respect by working with your dog instead of against them.

Bella and I have a unique relationship, and you and your dog can have that too!

Let us start at the beginning of how we can train a settle behavior in our dogs without necessarily being on top of them or having to actively manage them. At the beginning to make things a little bit easier have your dog on a leash.

The leash that you are using, should be between 6ft and 8ft. Stand next to your dog, or try to at least.

Stand still, and just breathe.

Once you have settled yourself, glance at your dog and see what they are doing...

standing: check first if something else is catching their attention. Then establish eye contact with your dog by talking in quiet neutral tones, and ask them to lie down. Be consistent here. You ask once, give your dog a moment to make a decision, give a short verbal correction if dog does not listen (this can be anything, honestly! my favorite ones turn out to be a german-american-sounding oui! or hey!) and ask for the down again.

Addi giving Rylee a treat for being a little crazy and a little anxious during the photoshoot with Isora Lithgow Creations, who took this picture.
Rylee Eating a Treat

sitting: all right! We are close to lying down here, so feel free to ask your dog to lie down at this point and persist on it. Make it clear what you are expecting of your dog, and if necessary lure your dog into a down, and then try this exercise again. Remember to stay neutral and ask nicely.

lying down: congratulations! Your dog naturally settles and this is amazing! Tell your dog that as well! I hope that you are able to walk around your dog without them getting up, or even move xx number of feet away from them. Let me know how your progress goes, I would love to cheer you on and provide guidance when I can!

Start training this behavior at home on a leash at first, or by watching out for passive behaviors such as lying down and settling on their own and marking it by throwing a treat. A silent cheer. A good job and move on. Do not make it a big deal. Your dog stays lying down, you give treats infrequently for continued relaxing.

Bella is trying to get Addi to play with a toy in Hanah's backyard. Photo taken by Addi von Eynern
Bella Lying Down

Repeat the same behavior of settling down when you are sitting on the couch, talking to someone on the sidewalk, and/or doing garden work.

With time, patience and consistent behavior from you, your dog will be able to settle in no time.

Good luck training and don't forget to tag me in your settle accomplishments!

Two Fluffs Given - Blog by Green Paws

Written and Edited by Addi von Eynern

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