Save yourself from embarrassment with this trainer-approved advice to help your dog settle in public

Man and dog sat on a park bench relaxing
(Image credit: Alamy)

If your dog can settle whenever and wherever they are, it’ll make your life a whole lot easier! It will save you worrying about opinions of passers by, too, and if you’re relaxed that’s the first step to helping you dog follow suit.

It’s not always easy for dogs to be calm and settle, particularly when they’re excited, or are somewhere with a lot of distractions. However, it’s not too difficult to teach them to settle – as long as you’ve got some of the best dog treats and a helping of patience and perseverance, too.

Certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has offered some advice for teaching dogs to settle in a recent Instagram post, so let’s take a look. 

Goodman recommends practicing settling while you’re walking your dog. Find random, quiet places and encourage your dog to settle for just a couple of minutes at a time to begin with. 

“Spontaneously practicing in random spots will help you generalize this behavior,” she says, “This is also a great way to let your dog take in their environment, which can have a calming effect on them.”

In her caption, Goodman advises bringing a towel or something similar that’s easy to carry, and bringing it out on street corners or other places where you can see in all directions. 

“Plus, there are behavioral benefits to breaking up your dog’s walks by having them do nothing for a few minutes,” she adds – she’s working with a dog, Butters, and got him to settle for around five minutes, which can be a long time for our canines.

If your pup isn’t settling straight away, remember to be patient, and consider if there’s anything you can do to help them. For example, let them sniff to give them some mental exercise, too. This could help relax them so they’ll be more inclined to settle – here’s how to calm down a hyper dog for more tips. 

And, there’s no harm in taking things back to basics and working on settling down at home. Get your dog on their leash and put a towel or blanket on the floor at home, without as many distractions, and give them treats for settling or one of the best long lasting dog chews to keep them busy.

When you’re confident that your dog’s capable of settling in this situation, you can gradually increase the amount of time between rewards, and then add in distractions – leading up to training your dog to settle in busy public areas.

If you’re hoping to tire your dog out and calm them down at the same time, you might find the following article insightful: I tried a 45-minute 'sniffari', and it tired out my border collie more than a two-hour hike!

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Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.