Halfway Through Madeline’s 1,000 Treat Challenge: Clara is Relaxing!
Wait ’til you see this! Clara and I are halfway through our 1000 treats for Madeline Clark Gabriel’s 1,000 Treat Challenge and I couldn’t be more pleased with our progress.
The behavior I chose for Clara’s 1000 treats and structured training is Relax from Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels, Level 2. As of this writing, we have had 14 sessions over 22 days, and used up 450 treats.
Sorry for the drab colors in the photos; I’ll do better for our grand finale when we hit 1000 treats.
If you haven’t seen the previous posts, here is the first one where I started the project, and here is my update after one week in. Or at the very least you might want to watch my “before” video.
To review my goals:
- Clara can lie down on a mat and immediately be still without trying a bunch of behaviors first.
- She will be moderately relaxed (not expecting a puddle of floppy dog yet). But no more quivering on the knife edge of expectancy. Things to look for: relaxation of facial muscles, especially in forehead. Slower respiration. Quiet tail. A shifted hip, if it is maintained that way and not just quickly offered.
- Clara can maintain this moderately relaxed state on her mat for one minute.
- Optional but hopefully: she can do this without staring at me.
We missed several days in the last couple of weeks, first because Clara had an acute GI problem (she’s fine now), then because I wasn’t feeling well and was too grumpy for these long sessions. But I am extremely pleased with our progress.
In the video this time I show a series of stills extracted from the video about a minute apart, and you can actually see Clara melting down into relaxation in time lapse. I am frankly amazed! Even while the session was going on I didn’t know we were doing that well! She settles down within 10 seconds of our beginning the session (no more throwing behaviors), and she is also cooling it with the eye contact. She is still looking at me, but is much more relaxed about it as far as I can tell (I’m making a point to not return eye contact).
Sometime in the last handful of sessions, Clara has started to get it about relaxing.
By the way, I don’t show it in the video, but Summer, in the crate, is getting some treats too. Having here right there may make it a little harder for Clara, but when we’re going through these periods where she is getting the lion’s share of my attention, I just have to do something for my other dogs.
I’m not going to film again until we get to 1000 treats. Since we have achieved my initial goals I am adding three more:
- I would like the momentary excitement when she gets a treat to lessen.
- I would like to see her brow unfurrow. That’s the last visible tightness in her body.
- And while we’re at it, I would love it if she would close her eyes. I think it’s within our reach.
Here are some other folks who are writing about or filming the challenge:
- Madeline Clark Gabriel: 1000 Treat Start
- Sharon and AfterGadget: 1000 Treats for Default Zen
- Elizabeth at Raising Reyna: The 1,000 Treat Challenge
If anybody else is blogging/filming, leave a comment and I’ll link to you here.
- Clara Relaxes: Video Progress: A handy page that has the whole set of three videos
Coming up soon:
- The Quadrants Illustrated
- Level 1 Breakfast (quick behavior drills)
- Est-ce que votre chien veut VRAIMENT être caressé ? (Does your dog REALLY want to be petted?–the French version!)
Eileenanddogs on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/eileenanddogs