Saturday, July 17, 2010

really, it's ok to relax

Oreo has been doing really well with the relaxation protocol regime. By day three, he only offered me two tricks throughout our whole session. I think he's finally getting the idea that it is OK for him to RELAX. I'm going to give him a treat for doing NOTHING. Imagine that. IMG_2064
Today, Day Four, Oreo got up and walked outside in the middle of our session. I thought maybe he had to relieve himself, however, I found him simply standing around. I asked, "Do you have to go potty?" He immediately began running in circles barking, and then ran back inside. What was that all about? I feel like it was a five year old's equivalent to "This is boring, let's do something else."

I got him back on the mat, using a lot more praise, and we finished the exercises. The protocol does say things may get worse before they get better, so maybe that was the case?

After the session, I immediately took him outside to play ball as his big reward.

I'm wondering what is going to happen in our next session. Day Five has me walking to an entrance and touching a DOORKNOB! Usually the slightest sound of the doorknob will send Oreo into a frenzy. So, this will be the true test to see if our hard work the past four days has paid off.

Oh, and I'm dreading day 11, when I have to ring the DOORBELL! Can you imagine?

Confidence. I need to have confidence that this is going to work. I am determined to make it through the 15 day regimen.

I cheated a bit, and used some of the methods in an every day scenario already, when I was sweeping the floor. Oreo was in the same room where we are now doing the exercises, so I think that is OK. Left to his own devices, he runs to attack the swiffer. For the past few months, I have been putting him on his mat and hoping he does a stay. Rewarding him when he does, but really he has been unable to stay for any good length of time. The allure of the sheep-like swiffer is too strong!

Yesterday, I clicked/treated him for sitting while I walked toward the swiffer, touched the swiffer, used the swiffer for 5 seconds, 10 seconds, etc. Plus, I intermittently threw into the equation the other stuff we've been doing in the RP, like just sitting for five seconds, me walking five steps back, and so on. Wow. It worked, with only a few bobbles along the way. Gave me extra incentive to see this through. If the end result is vacuuming without Kujo invading Oreo's body, I will be thrilled. Not to mention how this will be useful around the agility circuit, in the yard when the neighbor's kids are playing, in waiting rooms, when we leave the house....

At minimum, RP is giving me new tools to use for desensitization, a more methodical way of doing things, and I can see why it was so highly recommended in Control Unleashed.

9 comments:

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Sounds like you guys are doing well with the RP! I bet all of us Shelties could benefit from going through this program but I enjoy my obsessive, quirky and sometimes out of control behaviors so I am going to hope mom doesn't start your training with me!

Rob said...

I'm glad to see that things are working out pretty much ok.

Jules said...

Sara, you are really making me want to go ahead and work on this. I have been saying I w/should for ages. I am so glad you are seeing such a benefit. Very inspiring! :-)

Sara said...

It is worth a shot Jules! Every day, I find myself thinking about ways I could use it in the future to relieve some of Oreo's stress. I'd love to sit him down on his mat in the middle of an agility field and do some of these exercises. I plan on asking my agility instructor if we could come by a few days when there is no class going on and try it.

Dawn said...

Wow. You're making me a believer. And it would be sooooo nice to be able to vacuum without putting her outside in her pen. I think I should look this up...I'll go read your earlier blogs to find out the name of the program!

Course that would mean I have to stay home for x number of days in a row! LOL

Diana said...

I dont know if my comment went through, my computer is acting werid.

Wow, you are doing really well. I cant even say the word vacuum without Miley going crazy. LOL Diana

Kathy said...

I think adding in other things is a great idea although I would want to make sure that Oreo really understands this is not a stay exercise and is understanding he is being rewarded for signs of relaxation-it took my dogs a few more days I think until they really got that idea, but they are pretty hyped up dogs a lot of times, LOL, true to their BC breed!

Sara said...

That's a good point Kathy. I did start clicking yesterday for heavy eye lids. It's taking me a few days myself to figure this whole thing out.

AC said...

I'm glad it's going so well and you're seeing ways to use it day-to-day. Let me know how things work when you take RP on the road.

My goal with RP has been to help tone down Kona's hypervigilance outside the house, but I'm noticing that the vigilance takes over any attempt at relaxation. Makes sense on a physiological level. I know her stress response is very hardwired...

Anyway, don't mean to say this will be the case for Oreo, I'm curious to hear how to approach RP work outside the house to see what tips I can pick up from team Oreo!

ps- on the "clicking for relaxing" note, I try to reward Kona for any signs of relaxation, but as soon as she sees me getting ready to had her a piece of kibble, she goes from squinty eyes to big eyes (in excitement). Oh well =)