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How to Calm Down a Dog

By Team ECAD. May 15, 2012 | See Comments

How to Calm Down a Dog

The “Settle” command tells your dog to relax, calm down, and focus. Learn how to teach it to your pet here.

Do you know what your dog’s personality type is? You should! Dogs, unlike humans, only have two defined personality types: active and passive.

Knowing what category your dog belongs to is critical, because the two types react differently to new situations and new people, as well as commands, cues, and greetings.

For example, if your dog is passive, you will want to be very expressive, energetic, and use a lot of emotion when teaching a new command. However, if yoru dog has an active personality, you will want to be quiet, firm, and relaxed when you are teaching a new command.

How do you know if your dog is an active or passive personality? Although there are several factors to consider when determining your dog’s personality type, such as age and the time of day, the following example will help you to recognize some key characteristics of each personality.

When you return home from work or running errands, how does your dog react? Do they greet you by jumping all over you, spinning around and running all over the house, or any combination of high energy reactions? Or do they mosey over, wagging their tail low, dropping their head, and brushing up against you, showing that they are happy but not overjoyed to see you?

If your dog reacts more like the first scenario, they probably have a more active personality. The second scenario is how a passive personality would react.

The “Settle” command may seem more applicable to an active personality, but ECAD finds the use of this command can come in handy in various situations with both personality types.



Command 8 – Settle

“Settle” tells your dog to relax, calm down, and focus.

When to use

Anytime your dog is acting too excited, playing too rough, or is not cooperating with you.

Teaching Method

The best time to teach this command is during situations when you need your dog to be still. For instance, use “Settle” during grooming sessions when your dog will not settle, when your puppy is playing too rough, or when their behavior is just simply not appropriate.

When such a situation occurs, repeat the command “Settle” in a soothing, no-nonsense tone. It’s important to say the command without begging, and not to touch, praise, or engage with your dog until they have regained their composure.

Once your dog has calmed down, praise them softly and pet them slowly. Remember, if you are excited your dog will feed off this energy and think the excited behavior is what you are expecting and rewarding.


If your dog’s reaction to your soft praise and petting causes them to get excited again, stop what you are doing and repeat the command “Settle” again in a soothing, no-nonsense tone. This time, when your dog begins to relax, repeat, “That’s it…settle...that’s it” in a soft and soothing tone while you pet them slowly.

Once your dog has remained calm for 5 seconds, ECAD recommends taking your pet outside to let them burn off some energy. This is rewarding activity, and will reinforce the idea of when it is appropriate for your dog to be calm compared to when they are free to run and play.

Last Week’s Lesson


How to Get Your Dog to Come

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How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

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All training tips in this series are from ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities), a non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs for veterans with disabilities. Learn more about ECAD.

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