The Tie-Down and Settling

A guide dog needs to quickly settle in any environment. Settling means the dog is laying down quietly in a relaxed manner. The dog will stay in a relaxed down regardless of movements and sounds in the environments. Some dogs will fall asleep, while others might lay content next to their partner.

We can start teaching this behavior as a puppy with the tie-down provided to you when you start puppy raising. You can start introducing the tie-down in short increments during the first couple weeks of bringing the puppy home. Some puppies can be resistant to a tie-down because it is unfamiliar and feels restricting. It’s essential that they learn to relax and stay calm. Follow the guidelines below to help your pup become comfortable on a tie-down.

The tie-down is used to teach a puppy to calmly stay in one place. It can be helpful in several situations and environments:

  • Supervising a young puppy in a large space
  • Office, workplace, or classroom setting
  • Reliving schedule training
  • Meal preparation time
  • Quiet time
  • When guests are visiting
  • Teaching settling for extended periods of time

Guidelines for tie-downs

  • Tie-downs are short and intend to have the dog comfortably lying down.
  • They are short enough to prevent tangling or allow the puppy to walk to the end to relieve themselves.
  • Do not use a chewable object like your leash as a tie-down.
  • Start teaching settling and acclimation to the tie-down while you're watching t.v., eating meals, reading, or any other time you're sitting and can observe the pup in the same room.
  • NEVER leave a puppy unattended on a tie-down for an extended period of time.
    • Once the pup is acclimated on tie-down and trustworthy, you can leave the room for brief periods (3-5 minutes) to test their settling behavior.

To teach your puppy to use the tie-down please use the following procedures:

  • Select a safe, visible spot to attach the tie-down. The area needs to be free of items the pup can chew on or destroy.
    • Puppies can be strong so it needs to be something sturdy that will not fall over.
    • Several safe spots are a couch, heavy table, or bed.
    • Put the tie-down in an area where the puppy can be observed the entire time they are secured to it.
  • Once you have the tie-down secure, bring your puppy and a toy to the area.
    • The best time to introduce the tie-down is after a walk or playtime so the pup is ready to settle down.
  • Attach the pup's collar to the tie down in a calm, positive way while still remaining close.
    • Keep the pup close to the object the tie-down is attached to so there isn't tension on the tie-down from the very beginning.
  • Draw the pup's attention to the toy and let them start chewing on it.
  • Once your puppy is secure and focused on the toy, slowly move away as you release your hold on the tie-down.
    • Rushing away will most likely make your puppy rush toward you and get an undesirable correction for reaching the end of the tie-down.
  • Move away from the puppy to sit down nearby without talking or providing any attention.
  • Once your puppy is calm and relaxed provide reinforcement 10 seconds after they have been quiet with verbal praise and food reward.
    • Continue offering intermittent reinforcement with food reward, petting, and verbal praise. Continued reinforcement will help the pup remain calm and relaxed.
    • Some puppies relax immediately while other are more resistant and will take time to settle down.
    • A puppy that will not relax needs to be ignored, and you need to remain patient and wait for them to be quiet before any attention is given to them.
  • After your puppy is relaxed practice having the pup on tie-down for short periods of time (as little as 3 to 5 minutes if they didn’t settle well) and then slowly increase the time.
    • Continue offering a toy each time you use the tie-down until the pup is trustworthy in the house and will not chew on the furniture.
  • Start using the tie down in various rooms and environments including your rooms in your home, workplace, or classroom.
    •  You can start using the tie-down while you're in the same room, but while you're farther away from the pup.
    • Example: The pup is on tie-down at the kitchen table while you're preparing dinner. You can still observe the pup and reinforce their good behavior, but you are not right next to the pup.
    • Example: The pup is on tie-down at the dresser while you are folding and putting clothes away. You're moving around the room putting clothes away, leaving the room for several minutes at a time to put clothes away in various rooms, and the pup calmly remains on tie-down.

If the puppy continues to be resistant to the tie-down after several days, please contact your advisor or area coordinator.

Settling at home and in public

Settling can be expected at a young age in any environment. However, your support and reinforcement will need to be more frequent the younger the pup. By the time a dog comes IFT the dog should settle and lay down without a toy for extended periods of time, up to two hours.

To teach settling use the following procedures:

  • Make sure the pup has had adequate exercise and has recently relieved.
  • Always have a toy available for the pup to chew on until they are about 6 months of age.
  • Start in a quiet environment like your home, coffeeshop, or library.
  • Sit in a quiet location and give the pup the chew toy.
  • When the pup lays down to chew on the toy, calmly move your foot to step on leash. Step on the leash no more than 6 inches away from the collar.
    • By stepping on the leash, you are minimizing the space the pup can move in. This works very similar to a tie-down so the pup should be comfortable with this manuever. 
  • Periodically offer verbal praise or food reward to reinforce their calm behavior.
  • If the pup tries to stand up, lure the pup back into a down with your finger, food, or toy if they don't do so immediately.
    • If the pup continually tries to stand up or fight the confined space practice more time on the tie-down and make sure the pup doesn't need to relieve.
  • As the pup matures and settles within three minutes after you sit down, start going to more stimulating environments. Continue to give the pup a chew toy if you expect them to settle for longer than 30 minutes until they are about 9 months of age.