Relaxation Protocol Day 11: The Wheels Come Off

This is actually RP from 8/24/11, but for a train wreck it was such an interesting type of success I wanted to get all of your input so am posting it today.

This was the day I started started “disappearing from view” by going out the front door and closing it, though not latching it, so I could use the door knocker. The first session of day 11 didn’t go well, so I changed the setup to make it easier and still accomplish the tasks.

The lip licks start at :44, :45 the first time I go out the door. The lip licks stay pretty frequent through this whole day, though mostly when I’m not there to see them.

At 3:02-:10 she shows more than the usual alertness to Nellie The Monster coming in the dog door.

At 4:08 she readjust on her mat to face the door more. I didn’t notice this till I watched the video. For some reason it’s just hard to observe the signs of stress when you disappear from view and can’t even see your dog!

At 5:24 she catches a scent of something and breaks from her mat. I had Magnus set up in the bedroom behind the baby gate in the bedroom and at 5:32 he starts barking. He rarely barks and this was his, “Holy crap!” Alert bark.

I was proud of Maizey for trying to come back to her mat at 5:35, but whatever got them both going was still too stimulating and she can’t settle. Though at 5:48 she comes back to her mat and lays down when I cue settle.

I thought he may just settle himself, but when he didn’t I thought I’d let him out and see if he would settle with us. I was planning on just finishing the day very easy, but instead he cruised right out the doggy door. That’s my bad for not remembering it was still open.

I was very impressed Maizey stayed on her mat for all of that and even laid down at the end.

He really set up a ruckus outside and I thought I better see what was up with him so at that point I stopped day 11, went and got him and set them both up to do day 1. At that point I really wasn’t sure what to do, but wanted to save this train wreck somehow.

So what do you think? What should I have done differently? Do you see anything I’m missing? It will be interesting to see how it goes today after I get back from vacation. As mentioned, the plan is to back up and do day 10 again with the setup I used for session 3 of day 11. Have any better suggestions? I’d love to hear them!

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A No Dog Vacation

I’m on vacation with NO dogs. Not one! I know you can’t believe it, but it’s true!

It’s our thirteenth anniversary next month so my mom and step-dad gave us a weekend away at a great condo in the mountains.

It’s been at least three years since I went on a trip with out a dog. That means in three years I have not had one day with out 4legged companionship.

The best part? I’m having a blast! Yes, I’m sure it would be wonderful to have them here with us, but I seem to be surviving without them. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t still subjected my poor Mehusbandy to more than his fair share of dog talk, but he’s a good sport.

The view from breakfast.

So far we’ve done a whole lot of. . . nothing! Which is the best part of vacation. I’ve never been one of those pack it in type of travelers. I’m the boring type who likes to get up late, eat leisurely meals, read and watch movies and other generally lazy things. Hey, we did play frisbee, toss the football and even swam today, so we haven’t been totally sloth like.

Tomorrow we may even take a hike in between yummy breakfast, yummy lunch and afternoon naps. Or maybe not. That’s the other beauty of vacation, you just get to live in the moment and it really doesn’t matter if none of your plans get done.

I was going to leave Maizey and Magnus with our trainer. She boards dogs in her house and they get to live and play with her pack of 4legged friends. We felt it would be a good chance for her to evaluate Maizey away from me.

It didn’t work out to leave them there so my mom took them for the weekend. I’m sure they’ll be fine, at least Magnus will. But it’s so weird to be without them. My mom’s already humored me by sending pictures and video and I’ve only been gone a night. I have very good family.

Two more days and then it’s back to the daily grind. I’m not looking forward so much to that, but I’ll be so glad to be back with my puppies again!

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Relaxation Protocol Day 10 session two: No Flyin’ Today

Since this was the day we left for our little trip Maizey was very stressed. Suitcases tend to have that effect on her, and it was a busy day in general.

I wanted to do something easier than the dreaded day 11 so I just backed up to the day 10 setup she flew through before. There wasn’t much flyin’ today though.

The setup is the old setup of disappearing from view into the other room, not out the front door. The knocking is just on the wall, which she had no issue with before.

Mehusbandy is doing the dishes in the kitchen to her right and you do see her notice the pots and pans clanking. (Side note of thanks to Mehusbandy for doing the dishes! He can be pretty handy to have around!)

At 6:10, 6:36 she certainly hears me when I “disappear from view, knock softly on the wall” but she stays on her mat.

Then at 7:35 decides to come with me when I disappear from view. This is a my bad situation since I didn’t even notice until she was in the other room with me. We walked back to her mat and I didn’t have to cue to her to settle, she just did.

At 7:55 she gives me a very obvious lip lick. For the rest of the day’s tasks I went out of view, but didn’t knock.

Today we get back from our vacation and the plan is to do day 10 again with the setup I used for session 3 of day 11. We’ll see how she does with me going out the front door and not knocking today. I have no idea how she’ll recover from her exciting weekend, but it sounds like she’s showing some signs of being very close to threshold so we won’t push her for a couple days ’till she recovers.

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“Mind Your Manners!”

“Mind your manners!”

How many of us grew up hearing those words? I’m sure we all had a magic word that made what we wanted happen. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way to good relationships. Simple things pave the way for peace and harmony in community.

These simple things so often get ignored in society and not just by the 2legged members either. Manners are a vital part of having a 4legged friend that’s a good member of society too.

Manners have always been high on my priority list with my dogs. Unfortunately it’s easy to get distracted by the flashier and fancier tricks in dog training. That’s happened with me and Magnus.

My boy turned one last month and we’ve learned a lot in his first year but I’m noticing he really needs some “back to basics” work. I’ve neglected some of what I consider to be foundation behaviors for a good pet. He has a good start on almost everything I think he needs to know, but it all needs a bit of polishing.

There are several areas I think we need to focus on, some of which would be taken care of if we got his CGC, which was one of my original goals. All of which we’d accomplish just by working Training Levels.

Greetings and Door Manners
Greetings are one place we need some major improvement. Especially when my mom, Charley and Chloe come over he gets way too excited. When a knock on the door is the cue to jump, bark and run around like a maniac you need some manners work. This is a bit of a logistical problem for me since as a self confirmed hermit I rarely have people over. Yet another 4legged lesson: Dogs make you get out of your shell.

I like the video below on how to keep dogs calm when people come over. It sets the dogs up for success even if the humans don’t cooperate with the plan. I often find I have an easier time communicating with my 4legged friends what needs done for success than with my 2legged ones and by putting the dog behind an x-pen it creates a physical cue to the humans that training is going on.

I also need to make my greetings much calmer. The challenge for me is that when the dogs run out so excited to see me and want to smother me in Cavalier hugs and kisses it’s hard to resist! Looks like I’m going to have to practice some greeting zen for myself too!

Door manners are also on my list. I’ve always taught the dogs to wait to go through the door until released. I still like that method, but I’m adding another element our trainer showed me. So instead of the dogs sitting, waiting and then when released bursting through the door and go on their merry way the criteria is now for them to sit until released then reorient to me. This applies to gates and cars too.

A combined element to door manners and greetings is that I want a solid park it on their mats when I open the door. All of this is covered in Training Levels, so if I get busy on those these things will come. Relaxation Protocol helps with this too.

Crate Manners
Both my dogs crate fine, but Magnus has trained a bad habit into me with crating. Maizey gallops into her crate just fine. Magnus on the other hand has decided he only has to get in bed if I have the treat already in my hand for him. SIGH! How did I let that happen? It was one of those subtle things that developed over time and I didn’t even notice until this week.

The solution? First I need to leave more time when leaving to put him to bed. If I’m in a hurry instead of actually training I tend to resort to “Okay I’ve got your treat now hurry up.” I’m going to work through Crate Games with him to get that eagerness to load up back.

Relaxation Protocol
I’ve come to the conclusion every dog can benefit from RP. Magnus and I have worked through three days. I have video, but I figured you were all getting sick of RP video so I haven’t posted it. I may put it on youtube eventually. If you’re dying to see it let me know and I’l upload it for sure.

Handling
Maizey spoiled me as far as grooming and handling’s concerned since she’s at “Level 33″ with handling. Magnus is the exact opposite of her when it comes to handling. He’s never loved being groomed, but this last month with is limp he’s really got the best of me.

He submits, but he doesn’t love it. I know he’s probably not ever going to love being groomed, but I need him to at least cooperate. Today I actually took him to a groomer to have him cleaned up. Neither if my dogs has ever been a groomer, and I found one I felt confident leaving him with. I’d still rather groom him myself so I’m adding handling to the “mind your manners” list. This is another thing that will be taken care of by working the levels.

All this manners work means we aren’t going to be doing classes for a while. I’m taking it back to basics with him and hopefully that will set us up for more success when we get back to classes!

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Monday Miles: Back On Track!

I want to thank all of our Walking Challenge members for their patience and loyalty. With all the RP we’re doing around here it seems I just can’t get around to Monday Miles each week. I try to post our RP video’s the same day we do them, but that pretty much takes up all my blogging time.

We are finally making some progress with 8 miles for last week. We’re at a grand total of 165 miles for the year.

We have 19 weeks left to make our goals. For us that means we need about 11 miles a week. Barring injuries, deaths or dismemberments that should be doable. How about all of you? Where are you at with your miles for the year?

The Walking Challenge sure has had some interesting challenges I never expected to face. Magnus’ injuries really set us back, but Maizey’s anxiety challenges us too. I expected to have two dogs to walk and for the most part have had only one. I’m really proud of us and how we’ve stuck too this. I’m really thrilled we have a chance of getting caught up and making our goal.

So how ’bout all of you? Where are you at for the week and for the year? What has been your biggest challenge? If we do a 2012 Walking Challenge would you join us again? Let’s just check in and get this Challenge back on track!

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Relaxation Protocol Day 11 Session 2

Since I still need to do a Monday Miles post this is the cliff notes version for RP today.

We redid day 11 but I didn’t disappear from view. I went to the front door and knocked where she could see me.

Tomorrow I’ll disappear from view by going out front door, but keep the criteria low by not knocking. Hopefully I’ll end up being able to go out the front door, close it and use the knocker.

In session one of day 11 I thought the neighbor dogs going nuts when I knocked on my front door may have bothered her, but tonight I think it bothered me a lot more than it did her. I feel terrible for them, they are totally unsocialized Pit Bull’s that never get out of their dog run, but sometimes the barking at things in my house gets a little trying.

I apologize for my off tune humming. It wasn’t that I was just feeling musical tonight, but I read a thread on the Control Unleashed Yahoo Group about adding very soft counting or humming to RP. The counting, or humming becomes another cue for relaxation to the dog. I chose humming since it came more naturally to me and I figured would seem more natural to other people that may hear me when we finally take this gig on the road.

It went better today and i was thrilled with her calm state all day. She spent the night at my moms last night and I expected her to be pretty close to threshold recovering today, but she was fine.

I’m really thrilled with how much the Fluoxetine has helped her. We raised the dose to 7.5mg a week ago and I don’t notice too much difference, but she is still doing so much better.

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Relaxation Protocol Day 11: It Just Got Interesting! Now I Need Suggestions.

This was the first day she broke from her mat twice. Looking back I can totally blame it on me since I upped the criteria too much at once.

Today was the first day she was supposed “Sit while you disappear from view, ring the doorbell, and immediately return.

I had to make a change in location in order to “disappear from view” and still use the knocker on the front door. We don’t have a doorbell, but the door knocker is the same idea to my dogs. In fact they don’t even react to a doorbell at all since they never associated it with people coming to the house.

At :37 breaks for out of sight knock quickly but softly on the wall next to the front door. Then at 3:52, after several knocks with the knocker, she follows me at a “disappear from view.”

At that point I decided changing locations combined with disappearing from view was too hard and lowered my criteria by just disappearing from view the same direction with no knocking. I also backed up about a minute in the steps in RP and started her on something I knew she could be successful at.

I’m not sure if that was the right thing cause it made the day’s skills longer, what would you do?

So this is what I’m thinking, I’ve been disappearing from view by going in the bedroom but if I back up a couple days and start going out of the front door and closing it then I would be out of sight. Then I could add the knocking back in a situation where she was used to me going out of sight by knocking softly and briefly on the wall outside the front door, gradually working up to using the knocker. If that makes any sense at all, how does it sound?

The other thing is that my setup was just not good, I just didn’t leave room for running around her. Plus the migraine I’ve been fighting with all week really doesn’t make jogging fun, so my jogging was just wimpy.

She’s doing really good and even though it feels like we’re never going to make it outside, where she really needs this work, so I just need to be patient and let the RP do it’s work.

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