It finally happened! Maizey laid her chin down on her mat during Relaxation Protocol!!! Who knew you could be so excited for your dog to lay her head on the floor for three seconds? I know it’s silly, but I’m excited.
It was storming again, but that didn’t seem to bother her today. We took a tiny walk, three houses down, and I think she was still stressed from that so she looks more alert to me today.
We also had several distractions today at 4:37 Mehusbandy came in the front door, but she stayed on her mat. Then at 5:40 she sees him watching us, but she still stays laying down.
Then at 6:27-6:30 the wonderful relaxing moment happens. Now don’t blink! It’s short, but sweet!
Then end may look funny since apparently me jogging in place is a hilarious thing and the more Mehusbandy laughed at me the more I laughed, but even through all that she stays on her mat.
I know some people think RP is mind numbingly boring, but I’m enjoying it. I never knew I could spend so many hours watching video of my dog laying down and learn from it, but I am!
Yesterday I tried rewarding Maizey for her head bob offer in hopes of getting her to lay her chin down. I don’t think that worked well, it seemed to just keep her further in work mode for me. Today I backed off of that and I did get a couple of offers, but I think it’s better to encourage her to just be bored, not offer me to work.
Today’s RP lesson was about contextual cues. Contextual cues are very interesting, because sometimes dogs learn them and their people don’t even know they’ve taught them.
When I put on a skirt Maizey gets in her crate cause she know she rarely goes with me if I wear a skirt. Who new a skirt could be a cue?
When I set up the camera on the tripod she started wagging her tail. The whole time I set up the camera, got her kibble and moved the furniture she just laid on the couch softly wagging her tail with her happy, “I’m going to play games soon” grin on her face. Then when I out her mat she just hopped down and got on her mat. Apparently the camera is now a cue that fun is to come.
As cute as that is I still see no signs of her actually relaxing. In today’s video she does lay her chin on the mat twice, but she’s offering me a trick, not relaxing.
Now my problem is that I’m running out of space. I live in a small house and at twenty steps I’m already going wall to wall. Looking at RP it seems you would have to have an enormous space to do it all literally as it’s written. I can move outside, but will face a similar problem as my yard is also very small. So how did all of you handle this?
She’s doing well, I hope we can get her to actually chill out eventually, but until then she’s getting a very solid “park it” on her mat!
We redid day two today. It was a better day with only one instance of nervous behavior when a thunder storm started.
We did her RP before the storm so maybe that helped her recover faster. Compared to yesterday’s nervousness, which lasted about two hours, today’s nervousness lasted only about twenty minutes. At this point it’s hard to see a definite pattern, but it’s all interesting.
Not much to say about today’s session. The first two days there was some discussion about tail wags or lack of tail wags. Yesterday I thought perhaps the lack of tail wags could have been caused by her stress level, one comment mentioned perhaps it was from her wearing her Thundershirt and I thought that could be. Then today, no nervousness, no Thundershirt and no tail wags so perhaps it is a sign she’s relaxing a bit more.
On the other hand I’m still getting too much concentration out of her. At 1:50 she stays on her mat, but shuffles to keep her eye on me. At 4:19 is the first jogging in place exercise it’s for 3 seconds and that really gets her attention. Although the next behavior for me is jogging for 5 seconds and then 10 seconds and by the time I get to 10 seconds she seemed pretty settled with it. I may be standing a bit close to her and may try standing back a bit farther.
What do you see? Are we on the right track? Does anyone have a video of RP that is one of the more advanced days? I’d love to see it!
A thought about criteria. I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to see as we progress on. What I’d love to see is her looking bored. It’s a switch cause I tend to aim for total concentration from my pups, but in this I’d like to see the attitude, “Yeah Crazymomlady, you’re doing all that weird stuff, whatever! I’m chillin’!”
So in not anthropomorphized language I’d like to see her chin down on the mat, settled firmly on one hip perhaps even on her side, a silent tail, soft ears and eyes. This is one area I’d like to see her not trying to make eye contact with me, and follow me when I move.
How am I going to achieve this? I’m still working on that part. I’ll continue to do the Protocol, keep my eyes averted from hers, keep a quiet body myself, and I’m considering adding in rewarding her for the relaxed behavior on between the RP rewards.
Do you have any suggestions for me? As Sara said yesterday, “Boy, this is kind of like a science experiment.” It is a bit of an experiment, but I’m enjoying it and would love any input you all have!