New training challenge: Capturing “relaxation”

August 21, 2010 at 7:11 am 3 comments

For a Boston Terrier, Boogie is a very calm and silent dog. He doesn’t push, shove or bark. He sits and stares until you give in.

Sometimes I find him sitting or standing there,  STARING at me with a tennis ball at his feet. He can do this for a very long time.

He can calmly wait and stare at me for 30 minutes while I fold the laundry. He doesn’t bug me by  jumping up or by doing anything intrusive, but the STARING (even from a distance) is enough to drive me nuts…

I have started reading Nan Arthur’s CHILL OUT, FIDO: How To Calm Your Dog. In the chapter, “Relax On a Mat”,  the general idea is to wait for your dog to naturally relax (with no prompting) before you give him a treat. There is no clicker, and no cue. The dog should relax on his own first, and I am to reinforce this behavior by giving lots of high value treats when he is relaxed so that with continued practice, he should choose to settle and relax whenever the mat is present.

“Relaxation”  is supposed to be different from a “Down – Stay” (Relaxation = head down on the ground, 100% resting). This exercise is really hard. The problem is that as soon as I give Boogie a treat, he PERKS UP just like in the photo above. He stays alert like this for a long time, looking at me with anticipation and hope in his big eyes. I am not kidding… he can remain in this pose for ages… and then he gets sick of lying down so he sits up and continues to stare at me. *He is doing it right now as I type this blog post*

Emily’s video has some  tips… like ignoring the dog if he looks at you for a treat. The trick is to reinforce only when he looks away. (and not when he is turning away for a second, only to look back at me again)

There’s also Shirley Chong’s lesson:  Ignoring is Bliss… which is interesting because she combines “ignoring the dog” with using a clicker as soon as he lies down. The problem I find with using the clicker is that as soon as Boogie hears a CLICK, he becomes very alert and treat-obsessed. It takes way longer for him to relax again.

I should mention that Boogie already responds well to “Boogie, Go To Your Place” if I am at my desk or on the couch. He knows this cue, and he will walk away and go lie down in his bed or on his cushion.  He licks his paws, does a snort-snort-sigh and curls up to sleep.

This cue doesn’t work in my bedroom, though… I guess that’s because I have never done any training in my bedroom…

Boogie always sleeps in my bed… I can’t imagine him choosing instead to relax in HIS bed on the floor, when he is so spoilt used to hogging MY bed whenever he wants to.

My Mission This Week: Capturing relaxation in the bedroom.

Wish me luck.

Entry filed under: Training.

Back home with Boogie! A very happy day for Boogie

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. barrie.lynn  |  August 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    That is hiarious! I started reading your post then went to hunt down the link to Kikopup’s video since I know you are a very visual person then I clicked through from Google Reader to leave the link in the comments only to find that the actual post already contains the video 😉

    • 2. lili  |  September 3, 2010 at 5:39 am


  • 3. Training “relaxation” – an update. « Boogie’s blog  |  September 6, 2010 at 6:28 am

    […] September 6, 2010 Remember when I blogged about training Boogie to relax on his own bed when in my bedroom? […]


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