08-21-2017, 10:13 AM
Join Date: Apr 2015
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Originally Posted by busannie
As to the idea of rewarding vs not for calm behavior, as I said, food or toy rewards always seem to make it more difficult for my dog to maintain a relaxed state of mind.
Agreed, even with verbal praise at times I can see that it slightly perks my dog from her relaxed state. I have tried to create the "relax" by absolutely removing all anticipation from the equation because of exactly what you mentioned above. Randomness of rewards, whatever form they might take just is a process of fading but does not remove anticipation. I'd suggest it can actually heighten anticipation and I like to build anticipation in my dogs over the years for my purposes.
Tested the "relax" last evening, it was a good setting to proof the behavior. My GSD had not seen the neighbor's dogs at the fence for a week or so because we were all out of town together. I allowed her a " I'm back " session which was brief and the dog self-corrected within 10-15 seconds as she knows I'm not a fan of the tough dog fence routine even if the other dogs are continuing to go off. So, we come back out later, the other dogs are out at the fence going off, I invite my dog outside on the deck with us, I place her on the deck but her heart wants to go to the fence where the other dogs are. She keeps her mark, she is perked, observing everything in her sphinx style down. My wife and I are relaxing having a cocktail and time goes by, the dog assumes a more relaxed position, head down, ears no longer being radar dishes and the dog seems very relaxed, the other dogs are still out but of no interest to her. She has settled in and accepted the situation.
Neighbors dogs get called in, my dog lifts her head and observes and then resumes her "relax". Another 10-15 minutes of her relaxing and then we decide to go inside. The very instant my wife leaned forward to get up from her chair, the dog sprang to life and then escorted my wife inside. So, was my dog ever "relaxed" ? Hmmmmm, maybe it is all relative to the breed and wiring of the particular dog. Maybe my GSD is as vigilant as the day is long and just doing her "job" as she keys on us. I'm going with your "coiled spring" comparison but nonetheless for a period of 45 minutes the dog was relaxed but with one eye open rather than two.