Truly Relax

Last Friday we had a private lesson with the intructor that teaches the CU class and it was great! She spent about two and half hours with us giving us ideas and suggestions.

It was very interesting when for the entire two and half hours Maizey didn’t have one reaction. She met two of our instructors’ dogs, Rydge a toy poodle and Raygan a cool cattle dog. She was shy, but not reactive to them.

We walked a few houses down to where she could see two pit bulls and even then not ONE bark. She even settled and went to sleep while we talked and Magnus and Rydge played. It was amazing and I must admit a bit strange.

Maizey's new relax mat.

One of the things we are working on is trying to get her in a truly relaxed state on a specific mat so we can recreate that state in other places where she’s stresses. It’s the same principle as Relaxation Protocol, but since with her RP she views it as a game to work for me this is way I’m capturing her in truly relaxed moments and rewarding with a low quiet “good girl” and a very soft, slow, soothing touch.

There are several advanatages with this method. She gets charged with food and clicker, but letting her get herself settled down and then rewarding her with soft calm touch lets her stay relaxed. Because we are using a new mat she has never done any “work” on hopefully the mat itself will become the safe space where nothing bad happens and all she does is chill out.

We’ve moved this relax work to the car and it was very interesting! The first session I saw something I had never seen, Magnus was outside the car and Maizey barked at him as if he was any other dog. She always barks at dogs outside the car, but I had never seen her bark at Magnus that way. It was like she didn’t know it was him and just barked at a “strange” dog.

The second session it took her 5:51 seconds to even lay down and out of 30 minutes the longest period of time she was relaxed was for seven minutes. It makes sense to get her to relax in the car since it’s harder for her to be relaxed when we get places if she’s already stressed from the ride there.

The next step will be to work with the car on, then to work her into her crate. I can’t drive with her loose at all as she’s a danger when she tries to crawl into my lap. A seat belt isn’t a great option since she her stress rises when she wants to get in my lap and she can’t.

When she can relax in the car I’ll take her to the park where the class will be sometimes and try to get her used to that.

It’s a slow journey we’re on, but I see changes in her and I hope she’ll continue to get better.