How do you train to relax? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2012, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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How do you train to relax?

This may be an oddball question or at least it seems like it to me.

Can you or is it possible to train a dog to relax?

The background to the question is this. Working with a behaviorist we are attempting to desensitize Woolf to new, strange places. At this point I am using empty parks, churches, schools on weekends etc, anything that is very quiet with no human or animal around. I change it up from obedience then quiet time for him to relax, quiet time then obedience, play time then quiet time and so on. The problem is he is extremely hyper alert; always scanning the area, looking, scenting the air.

Those actions taken by themselves, you could say he is being a dog. Most dogs would relax when they saw there wasn't a threat, Woolf doesn't. Before we can move forward with his training, we need to get through this stumbling block.

So is there a way to train for that?

I'm hoping this is making sense with what I am asking. Especially since I am confused by it.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2012, 02:49 PM
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This should help.
Protocol for relaxation
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2012, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you!! I don't know why that didn't come up when I did a search for relaxation.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2012, 03:37 PM
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one thing you can start practicing at home is to train him on the "settle" command. The settle command is a position you'll have to lure him into a few times but dogs do it all the times on their own.

Lemme explain. When a dog is laying on their side (completely on their side, head down, relaxed) they are in a calm state of mind. Its been proven that when a dog lays on their side, their breathing slows and their heart rate slows as well creating a calming effect on the dog. By teaching the settle command in various places, you can gradually help a dog learn to relax in all situations.

To teach the settle command, you obviously need treats to lure him into position. First you would put him in a down and then lure his head around over his back, similar to how one would teach roll over. Your goal is to lure him onto his side with his head down. The instant his head is on the floor, give the settle command and treat him and praise him. Continue working on this until you can increase the length of time he is on his side before you treat and praise. Eventually you can reach the point you can tell him to settle and he just does it.

Shasta gets real excited about pet stores, so I started putting her in the settle position for a few seconds or a minute until she calmed down some and then we would try focus games again. Helps with dogs of all temperments. Perhaps look into learning about canine massage as well. That might help in getting him to relax outside the house.

Shasta GSD 5/5/10 CGC, ITD, TC
"Dax" Thor z vom Weberhaus BCAT CAX2 CGCA ETD HCT NCO-1 PKD-T RATI RATN RA TC TKA 3/18/2013
"Hades" Guilty vom Blutfeuer 10/26/2018
Zena GSD 6/1/03-2/16/2016
Riley GSD/BC 1/10/05-2/1/2013
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2012, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. That will give me a tool to use that doesn't involve a stay command. I have to use the stay command so much when managing him, I didn't want him to come to associate it with his learning to relax (if that makes sense). Doing this he will still have to choose to remain in the settled position.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2012, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twyla View Post
Thanks. That will give me a tool to use that doesn't involve a stay command. I have to use the stay command so much when managing him, I didn't want him to come to associate it with his learning to relax (if that makes sense). Doing this he will still have to choose to remain in the settled position.

hope it helps!

does he know a wait command? its a little more relaxed than issuing a stay command. Stay, for me, is stay in a body position such as sit. dont want the dog to slip into a down during the stay whereas with Wait, it can be used in several situations. A settle command followed by a wait command (once he is more relaxed from the settle) can be used to allow him to shift around but stay in a fixed spot. Make sense? Might be less stress for him to be able to shift around in place in different areas than staying in a fixed position.

Wait is also basically a stop command that can be used when your dog goes towards the street and you say wait, they should stop. Same as rushing the door, things like that.

Shasta GSD 5/5/10 CGC, ITD, TC
"Dax" Thor z vom Weberhaus BCAT CAX2 CGCA ETD HCT NCO-1 PKD-T RATI RATN RA TC TKA 3/18/2013
"Hades" Guilty vom Blutfeuer 10/26/2018
Zena GSD 6/1/03-2/16/2016
Riley GSD/BC 1/10/05-2/1/2013
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2012, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yeah he knows wait, I'd be run over in a heart beat without it. Same here with the stay, be it sit or down, he's to hold that position. The wait would give him freedom as you said, but once he finally gets it that there isn't a threat, it may not be needed.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2012, 11:32 PM
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I have done the Protocol for Relaxation to help my dog work on staying calm while I greet someone at the door and let them in, and I like it. It helps me to keep in mind the "value" of the treat that I'm using. If the treats I'm using are "too good" then Dax just gets super excited and does not relax. If I use plain kibble then he can lay there nearly falling asleep while I'm knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell and generally acting like a maniac but still get a reward.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2012, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Update

Kzoppa, thank you for the instructions on the settle command. Woolf has dropped his average time of taking 30 minutes or more to begin to relax down to 15 minutes or less. Many times now I am not even having to use it. Once I tell him 'done' and we move to the side of where ever we are working, he checks things out then drops on down onto his side. I quietly have a party while he relaxes

Not on his side but soaking up the rays

How do you train to relax?-wp_000029.jpg
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