What is the definition of the relaxed cue in dog training?
The relaxed cue is sometimes referred to as the “settle cue” or simply teaching your dog to “go to your place.” It’s a way of simply getting your dog into a calm, relaxed state on cue. A lot of behavior problems come from fear, anxiety or distraction.
A ringing doorbell or strangers can send your dog into frenzy. Thunderstorms or the 4th of July can make your dog panic, possibly inflicting injury or destroying furniture. If you’re training her, you want the best mindset—calm and relaxed.
Like any training, getting the dog to settle and focus should begin in an environment where there are minimal or no distractions.
Some feel that it’s best to have a new set of cues to help both the pet and its owner understand what behavior is desired. Some, therefore, prefer to use words like “chill” or “steady” rather than only a “sit.” Similarly, instead of “down” a “relax” or “settle command might be considered; “follow” or “heel” should be used for a calm, loose leash walk, and “go to your mat” should mean go settle down in your bed.
Clicker training can be particularly effective for marking and reinforcing gradually more desirable increments of behavior. A leash and head halter can be used to insure success before release and reward. In order to achieve and maintain a calm response, the person doing the training must remain calm, relaxed and soft-spoken, and environment must be free of distractions. Remember, while you might be teaching the pet to sit/stay or down/stay, what you really want to emphasize is a relaxed emotional state.
However, you also want to be sure the dog understands that she is being rewarded for returning to the area to relax, not for performing “down” or any other command. Each time she returns to the mat, towel or bed, mark it, praise and treat, Each time you release her from the area, step back a bit farther so she has to take another step or two to get back to the mat to restart her game.