Here, on one page, are the three videos I made tracking my progress with Clara with “relax on a mat,” plus some real-time footage from a very early session and the last session.
When I started this training, I had already made a lot of the typical errors when trying to teach relaxation and had ended up with a very twitchy dog.
There are lots of ways to teach mat relaxation, but with Clara, on the advice of my teacher, I went for duration stillness. My teacher told me that relaxation could result from duration stillness for my dog and she was right. I started with capturing moments of stillness, and worked duration from there. I avoided the method of marking increasingly relaxed behaviors. This can work, but I had tried and messed it up and created twitchiness instead. The errors and my choice of method are discussed in detail in the blogs (which are listed at the bottom of the post).
You will see in the videos that I virtually never mark and reinforce right after Clara moves, with the except of when her tail wagging is slowing down. Marking that **reduction** in movement surely worked; one of the first things she learned to do was to still her tail.
The “before” video will give you an idea of how far we came. There are plenty of mistakes in even the later videos. In watching them, I twitch, myself, wishing that I had reinforced earlier sometimes! And I wish I hadn’t had my other dogs there disturbing us. But even with mistakes, I’m very pleased with our progress.
Relaxation for 1000 Treats: “Before” video
Clara Relaxes Week 2
Clara Relaxes Week 3
Real Time Versions
I’ve had several people ask me about what the actual training looked like. So next time you want to take a break from watching grass grow or paint dry, take a look at these. Both show the beginning of a session and go on for about 6 minutes, so you can see how and when I am choosing to reinforce. Then they skip ahead to about a minute from the end so you can see how relaxed she got in that session. In the first video, Session 3, you can see her making some big progress in understanding what I am asking her to do. In the second, Session 14, one you can see how far we got.
Here are the blogs that discuss the method and progress.
- Madeline’s 1000 Treat Challenge
- Madeline’s 1000 Treat Challenge: Starting Week 2
- Halfway Through Madeline’s 1,000 Treat Challenge: Clara is Relaxing!
Finally, this movie shows excerpts of several methods of teaching relaxation.
© Eileen Anderson 2015 eileenanddogs.com