January 17, 2014

Trick Training: Relax

"Relax" was one of the first tricks I taught Ruby. Sometimes she is so easy to work with that it's hard to describe exactly how I capture things.  When I taught "roll over" and she got confused or just tired, she would stretch out flat on her side, so I just clicked/treated to reinforce that behavior and put it on cue.  I use the clicker when training a new behavior, but phase it out pretty quickly.  I will take a deep breath before I say "relax" and tilt my head to the left - she doesn't always need the verbal cue, but in this video you can see that she needed a little prompting. Since Ruby can be extremely high-energy and hyper-vigilant, and my main objectives in her training are calmness, confidence and self-control, I thought that learning to at least look relaxed could be beneficial.

Here is a good article by Dr. Sophia Yin that explains how to train this behavior step-by-step and emphasizes its value.  I used "relax" instead of "bang" or "play dead" because I don't even want to pantomime shooting my dog! I didn't notice until I took video how much her tail wags when she is doing tricks - I love that it's something we can both enjoy!


10 comments:

  1. I love this! She's such a good girl.

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    1. She is so much fun. I need to spend some time looking at the 101 Dog Tricks book this weekend and pick some new ones to work toward.

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  2. Hi Lara! Saw your post in the Blogpaws group and here I am! Love that you use "relax". I thought I was the only one who had a problem with bang-bang… that's the biggest reason I haven't trained this trick yet! I'll need to get started on it now with Rocco! And, I love Ruby's "relax"… so cute! We love the 101 dog tricks book too!
    Diane and Rocco

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    1. Hi Diane - thanks so much for visiting! I'm going to check out your blog, now, too. I love the name Rocco, in fact when I crazily consider a second dog, Rocco is at the top of my name choices for a boy dog! I think Ruby and Rocco would sound so cute together.

      It is pretty impressive when dogs throw themselves to the ground on the "Bang" trick, but I thought it was something I'd like to have a more practical purpose for as well. I want to start working on increasing the duration that she stays down.

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  3. I once saw a dog that did something similar to BANG on the command "Jellylegs!". It was HILARIOUS.

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    1. Oh, that's a great cue! Sometimes thinking up what cue I want to use is the hardest part!

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  4. Ruby is so smart and beautiful! I love training with Wynston. I just feel like it creates such an amazing bond :) I have never seen this particular "trick" so it's very refreshing and new! Great job! Well done, both of you!

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! I have never had a dog with such an aptitude for tricks. Since being out in the world can be stressful for both of us, trick-training is a great way to have fun indoors! I'm working on increasing the time that she holds this trick, waiting for me to release her.

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  5. She's so good at this!!!

    I am not a fan of the "dead dog" trick either. But I do admit to sometimes pretend shoot Blueberry with a tranquilizer gun. Just when she is a little rambunctious I will point my finger at her and say, "Hey, this tranq gun isn't working, I think you need another dart". ;)

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