Help Your Dog Chill Out

So your dog needs to chill.

Let’s get him to chill on a bed.

There, he can relax, sleep, and stay out of mischief – while you solve behavior problems!

“Anytime, anyone is struggling with a problem behavior, I ask them one simple question. “Well, what do you want your dog to do instead?” I get a lot of surprised looks! Most of us haven’t actually thought about it that way!”

Andrea Kutzko, CPDT-KA

So let’s make chilling on bed the “instead of” behavior.

If your dog is chilling, he is not:

  • Anxious, Worried, or Overexcited
  • Jumping on Guests
  • Charging the Door
  • Stealing Food or Other Items
  • Begging at the Table
  • Demanding Attention

Follow these steps to teach your dog to go to his bed on cue, and even on his own. This plan incorporates obedience to give your dog direction, and relaxing techniques to chill out. Your dog will learn to look to you in times of stress, and begin to use his bed as his “chill zone” – without you telling him to do so.

With practice, you’ll catch your dog on his bed when he’s stressed or bored.

Practice these exercises in a calm environment, consider adding canine calming music, and use a relaxed tone. If you aren’t relaxed, practice at another time.

The bed is always a safe place. Only good things happen here! No yelling! If you get frustrated, stop training and come back another time. Your emotions affect your dog’s behavior.

Step 1. Teach your dog the cue “go chill out” or “go to bed”.

Toss high value food onto your bed so your dog follows. As you toss, say your cue. When your dog is on the bed, reward with yummy food. Be calm, patient, and happy.

Step 2. Have your dog lie down on the bed.

After asking your dog to go to his bed, reward him. Then ask him to lie down. Reward him again – in between his paws.

Step 3. Teach your dog to hang out there.

After your dog is laying down, begin by standing next to your dog and rewarding short seconds where he doesn’t move. Treat in between his paws every time so he learns to keep his head relaxed. Make sure you stand up between treats. As he improves, you can begin to add distractions, duration, and begin to really use this skill.

Step 4. Proofing and maintaining the skill.

Proofing means that your dog will chill on his bed, in almost any environment, with any distractions, no matter what. Check out the steps below to begin this process that are inspired by Dr. Karen Overall’s Protocol for Relaxation (available at this url: Begin with your dog already laying on his bed).

  • Treat between your dog’s paws. This keeps his head down (to chill).
  • Take 1 step to the side. Treat in between paws.
  • Back up 1 step and return. Treat.
  • Work with a qualified, experienced trainer to learn to add distance, distraction, and duration with success.

Some Tips: Keep practicing. If you find your dog regularly gets off of his bed during this activity, it is likely a sign that your dog is too distracted. If he continues to get off the bed on his own. Reduce distractions and increase rewards to keep progress going!

Consider taking a class with me at Petco to teach your dog to stay for a longer amount of times with distractions!

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