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Training the Family Dog
A & C - Arousal and Calmness
Beginning Level 2 Games and Cues
L2-A&C - TOPICS
Confidence, Optimism, Calmness, Arousal Down, Independence
Arousal Up, Arousal Down
Confidence, Arousal Up/Down, Calmness, Impulse Control, Thinking in Arousal
For any Socialization experience continue with DMT, and continue to play your socialization/confidence games at home that are listed on your socialization pages.
L2-A&C - AROUSAL DOWN
Confidence, Calmness, Focus, Arousal Down, Impulse Control, Tolerance of Frustration (Walking With Manners, Socialization)
Confidence, Calmness, Focus, Arousal Down (Relationship)
Confidence, Calmness, Focus, Arousal Down, Disengagement, Impulse Control
L2-A&C - AROUSAL UP
Speed It Up, Slow It Down
Confidence, Arousal Up/Down, Focus, Engagement, Disengagement, Impulse Control, Thinking in Arousal
Fetch FUNdamentals Retrieve Games
Confidence, Optimism, Focus, Arousal Up, Engagement, Disengagement, Proximity (Recall, Relationship)
Confidence, Focus, Engagement, Disengagement, Impulse Control, Thinking in Arousal
Confidence, Focus, Arousal Up, engagement, Disengagement, Proximity, Impulse Control (Recall, Walking with Manners, Relationship)
Paws On (Up/Down)
Confidence, Optimism, Arousal Up/Down, Focus, Engagement, Impulse Control, Flexibility (Socialization)
Movement Games (Up/Down)
Confidence, Calmness, Focus, Engagement, Disengagement, Impulse Control
(Walking With Manners, Relationship)
Fetch/Toy Switching (Up)
Confidence, Optimism, Focus, Arousal Up, Engagement, Disengagement, Impulse Control, Flexibility, Thinking in Arousal
AROUSAL AND CALMNESS TOPICS
A dog can handle only so much stimulation. Think of that threshold as a bucket that fills and empties. Everything fills the bucket - the good things, the exciting stuff, the stressful or frustrating things, and the suspicious or scary situations. Distractions in the environment, events, and their predictability which builds anticipation, and even training contribute to filling the bucket. Activities that create higher-arousal fill the bucket more quickly and can easily cause the bucket to overflow.
Your dog can also empty his bucket. Think of this like a hole in the bottom of the bucket. What empties the bucket is varying levels of calmness. That includes calm activities like chewing a chew toy, resting and relaxing, and sleep. Your dog's bucket size and how quickly things fill it, and how efficient your dog is at emptying the bucket depends on the individual. It is based mainly on temperament.
Training, however, can significantly help make your dog's bucket bigger, make things fill it more slowly, and help your dog empty it more quickly. DMT, confidence, and calmness games are the top contributors to helping your dog balance the bucket. As you work through the novelty of the world around you (socialization) and utilize DMT and conceptual games, you create calm and positive associations with things you come across in the environment, and your puppy learns to ignore them and see them as no big deal. That is why I stress calmness and not excitement when out and about. Calm dogs don't overflow their buckets. A dog that is good at quickly calming down can handle more of the world without losing control.
Remember your goal. Your puppy or young dog won't be there yet. There are many steps you will need to do along the way. Observation and DMT first so you can assess your puppy and figure out what you will do to help your puppy learn to focus on you. Simple cues may or may not work. If your puppy can focus on you, engage in a game. If your puppy can't focus on you, move away until you have your dog's focus, and then play a game. You will be working through various emotions and reactions to the environment. The world is still very new. A dog that can focus on you and have some self-control is a calmer dog. So when you are out, reward those moments when your puppy is calm, even if nothing else is around. DMT calm moments!
Your puppy can greet people, but only when your puppy is comfortable. And interactions should not happen every time you come across another person. The focus should be on you, first, or get back on you. Greetings with people should be when your puppy is behaving well, not over-excited or nervous. Sniffing someone does not mean the dog wants to say hello. It simply means the dog is gathering more information. It is okay to tell someone, "No." Balance between greeting someone that your puppy notices and continuing to walk and not saying hello. Calmness is your goal, but there are various levels of calm, so set steps to gradually work towards your goal. Use your games to help you get there. Every dog is different, and it is your job to know what is best for your dog. Keep your dog safe, and know what that is for your puppy.
You will play your concept games every time you go out. Build focus on you, not the environment. Bring high-value rewards for when you need to "out-do" something distracting. Calmness is rewarded, not over-excitement. Keep greetings short and sweet to minimize the filling of your dog's bucket. Your training games, games that develop skills in concepts, provide your dog with tools to handle the world. That, in turn, manipulates your dog's bucket to help it work more efficiently, giving your dog the coping skills needed to handle events that happen throughout the day.
CONFIDENCE, OPTIMISM, CALMNESS, AROUSAL DOWN, INDEPENDENCE
There are different levels of calmness that your puppy will need to learn in order to have a good off switch. It is important that your dog learns to default into a calm state and stay there until you say it is time to get going.
The Calmness Triad helps you to understand how to help your puppy learn to calm himself, and teach him skills to be able to do it on his own.
Calmness before everything! Even if it is just a short period of calmness. Calmness is a behavior like any other, and needs to be rewarded.
In order to have balance in your dog's life, he needs to not only have fun, but also understand the fun only happens when he is first calm and then works for you. By reinforcing moments of calm, you build value in it and your Aussie learns that turning off actually feels good! Your recipe for successfully raising awell-behaved dog is...
CALM —> WORK —> Play!!! —> CALM = SUCCESS
Calmness always needs to follow exercise and fun, too, to allow your dog to recover and rest, as well as turn off so that you can have a break! Your goal is for your dog to default to a calm state, and only ramp it up if you instigate it. This will take time! You will be working on growing calmness this first year.
A TRUE OFF-SWITCH
A tired dog is not a necessarily a good dog - they can be cranky and sassy when they are tired. They leash bite, bark, talk back, get mouthy, blow off cues, chew on things… A CALM DOG IS A GOOD DOG! A calm dog always chooses an appropriate behavior!!! Calmness does not necessarily mean resting or sleeping. It just means that the dog is relaxed, in control, making appropriate behavioral decisions at a low level of arousal.
A true off-switch means that your dog has learned how to default into calmness even when he has energy to spare. This energy is saved until you say it is time to go again. Running a dog into exhaustion does not teach calmness. That is not a true off-switch. If you always try to "run it out"
until your dog is exhausted, he will not learn to turn off when needed. He will not learn how to calm down when you need him to. He will just get more physically fit and more dependent on over-arousal activity!
So, calmness before everything - calmness follows everything; every outing, activity, walk, play and training session, etc. When you bring the energy up, you must bring it back down again. Do yourself and your dog a favor and teachan off-switch.
PASSIVE CALMING ACTIVITIES
Lowering arousal activities like chewing on chew treats, activity/treat toys, snuffle mat, etc.
Place value in calming down and dog learning to self-soothe. When done ona boundary, puts more value in the boundary (crate, ex-pen, dog bed, etc.
Encourages good chewing habits.
Refer back to your Chew, Play and Training Toys handout.
CALMNESS PROTOCOL (AKA NINJA FEEDING)
The Calmness Protocol is part of the Calmness Triad, and an important step in helping to ensure that your dog has a good off-switch. Calmness needs to be reinforced. Itis abehavior like any other, and typically not one a young dog will choose. By rewarding it, you are putting value in it. But, simlutaneously, you are indeed interrupting it. You will find that over time, the alertness level of your pup after a reward will decrease, because the concept you are teaching is that calmness makes the rewards happen. Returning to rest will happen more quickly with practice. This is part of the process. You will "ping pong" duration of calmness (short, longer, shorter...) over time to stretch out the duration of calmness.
- IMPORTANT!!! Feed like a ninja! Do not let your pup see you feed. It should seem like it just falls from the sky. If your dog catches you grabbing food, walking over, etc., STOP! Abort the reinforcement and wait for the next opportune moment and be more sneaky. If your dog catches you feeding, you run the risk of your dog thinking you are rewarding for the eye-contact and alertness, not calmness, so be careful!
REST OR SLEEP
Physical exercise is not the answer to wearing a dog out. They can recover quickly. plus, physical exercise builds endurance. Little puppies need to have limits on physical exercise to protect their vulnerable bones and joints.
Don't underestimate the power of mental exercise! Exercising the brain through learning and socialization can go as far, sometimes farther than physical exercise.
When both physical and mental activities come together in balance- so structured play, games, training sessions - rest and sleep naturally follow. Just ask those puppy parents who take their older puppy to training class... "He slept for three hours when we got home from puppy school!"
A Dog's Life Philosophy
Arousal Up, Arousal Down
CONFIDENCE, FOCUS, CALMNESS, AROUSAL UP/DOWN, IMPULSE CONTROL, THINKING IN AROUSAL
Helping a dog learn how to calm back down from a higher arousal state is not only useful, but essential if your dog is going to have a good off-switch. This game is the mechanism in which you will teach this. During play you will choose games that involve lower arousal, followed by games that bring up arousal, and then games that take your pup back down again.
To set yourself and your puppy up for success in the beginning stages of teaching the game, begin when your pup is in a calm state, and reward that state with play. In the beginning, keep the excitement part of play time and calm time short, and as your pup begins to understand and do well at bringing arousal levels up and down, then you can increase the duration of the ups and downs. You can then start using it as a transition game to help bring your pup back down from a good exciting and fun play session and help him transition to a ca;mer state and then ready for some calmness - "turning off." Plan to have a rhythm of calmness, which then leads to training, games and higher arousal (play) to Arousal Up/Down, then to a Passive Calming Activity, and then rest.
As you go through the various games in the training packages, learn which games bring the arousal levels up in your puppy, and which ones bring the arousal levels down. Use the theory of this game in your everyday activities with your pup.
Typical Arousal Down Games: Boundary Games, RewardNothing, Calming Touch, Middle, DMT, Airplane Game, Collar Grabs, Sniff It Out, Room Service, Paws On...
Typical Arousal Up Games: Fetch FUN Games, Toy Switching Games, Movement Games, Orientation Games, Paws On, Middle...
A&C AROUSAL DOWN GAMES
CONFIDENCE, CALMNESS, FOCUS, AROUSAL DOWN, IMPULSE CONTROL, TOLERANCE OF FRUSTRATION (WALKING WITH MANNERS, SOCIALIZATION)
A visual cue for when your pup is on leash and you are stopping for any reason. This teaches your dog to turn off for a moment, default into calmness, until you say it is time to turn back on again.
This is useful for when you are...
- Out and about and taking a break
- Stopping during a walk
- Saying hello to a friend
- Teaching calmness for when visitors come to visit your home - yes, don't forget that you can use the leash in the home as well!
- ...and many more...
This is that next step forward from having your pup in the ex-pen (or crate) when people come over, or when out and about, to help you teach and reward calmness and no jumping with greetings. It also teaches your dog to remain calm when you are taking a break from any activity.
Remember to reward the subtle stages of calmness - stand to a sit... sit to a down...
Practice at home first. Then when out and about with nothing there. Then practice in real life situations.
Pair this game with DMT when you need to. This game is about capturing and rewarding calmness!
CONFIDENCE, OPTIMISM, CALMNESS, FOCUS, AROUSAL DOWN, (RELATIONSHIP)
Having a tactile "cue" of sorts to help a dog calm down can be useful. It prevents us from using our voice which can sometimes cause the opposite effect of what we are going for. Tactile communication actually helps both dog and human calm down and "sync-up" in heart and breathing rhythms (scientific study proved this).
Some dogs, when in a high arousal state, avoid physical contact. This game helps to teach your dog to welcome physical contact no matter the state of mind, and to allow you to help soothe him when he needs it, whether your dog thinks so or not.
Take note that you will need to segin this when your puppy is already calm. Tactile touch can be soothing at first, but puppies can get easily stimulated, too. Stop before your puppy begins to get antsy so the proper association is made with the tactile cue. How you pet or touch your dog will depend on what your puppy likes: along the back, circles on the chest, soft strokes along the head or down the neck, etc.
BEGINNER NOTE: FOR PUPPIES AND YOUNG DOGS, TOUCH CAN BE CALMING AT FIRST BUT IF IT GOES ON FOR TOO LONG AND CAN BECOME STIMULATING AND THEREFORE, AROUSAL UP. So short and sweet at first and over time, it can go on for longer.
I have to say that this one is a life saver for me with both Echo and Doc for different reasons. Echo would get herself over threshold with excitement or frustration. Doc would experience anxiousness or worry, sometimes even fear. For both dogs,the calming touch has helped us tremendously to help calm them anywhere - at home, out and about, during training, and even at trials. The simplicity of this is fantastic!
CALMNESS, FOCUS, AROUSAL DOWN, IMPULSE CONTROL
The Reward Nothing Game involves you rewarding your dog (using a low arousal reward and delivery choice) for doing… you guessed it... nothing!
Your dog can adopt any position she chooses, but the key is for the 10 treats you pick out for the session, she is doing nothing when they are delivered. The aim is to capture that moment of bringing the energy down, relaxing the muscles, some stillness. Keep the calm with a calming reward marker and a calm delivery of the reward - place treat on the floor (or blanket/ground if out and about) between your puppy's paws.
This game also works great in conjunction with Arousal Up, Arousal Downand supports other transition games.
When Boundary training, use this game to reinforce calmness on the boundary.
"REAL LIFE" REWARD NOTHING:
You also want to apply this game to real life situations. Rewarding calmness is important in supporting that off-switch. A calm, relaxed, quiet dog is a good dog, but they have to understand that this is the behavior you want. How do you do that? By rewarding calmness for all those things that your dog wants and needs. So before making your dog's meal, before grabbing a toy for play, before going outside for a game of fetch or for a walk, wait for calm behavior first (and you can'tcue this one!), and then reward it with all those wonderful things in life.
Once mastered at home, take this on the road. Play at a park, or at the patio of a cafe or brewery. Anywhere you want your dog to learn to settle and be calm.
This game is also the game for promoting calmness on the boundary (Game 6 in Boundary Games - Growing Calmness)
A&C AROUSAL UP
Speed It Up, Slow It Down
CONFIDENCE, FOCUS, AROUSAL UP/DOWN, ENGAGEMENT, DISENGAGEMENT, PROXIMITY, IMPULSE CONTROL, THINKING IN AROUSAL, RELIABILITY (RELATIONSHIP)
This is a movement game that you can play to begin working through higher excitement. Higher levels of energy and excitement (or frustration, anxiety, or fear) is referred to arousal. The higher the arousal, the more likely your puppy will default to natural, instinctual dog behaviors like mouthing, nipping and jumping.
This game helps in working through arousal, starting down, then bringing it up a little, and then back down again, so your pup can learn how to choose the correct behaviors over the instinctual ones and learn to still think even when more excited, inhibiting natural dog behaviors for ones that you want. It is an arousal up, arousal down game in itself. But I highly recommend working it with other games that are arousal down, so that your pup gets good practice at calming down sufficiently enough to have the control needed to not arousal bite or jumping with this game.
You can play this game just like movement games back in week 2 of training, just working through higher levels of arousal with quicker movements. If someone else is moving, you can use DMT and Reward Nothing to teach your pup to be calm and not chase. If you need to use a leash at first to prevent chasing. Lastly, you can coach the person like I do in the video, on rewarding the behaviors you want - behaviors that are calm, just like in the movement games. Play this game both inside AND outside for better reliability.
Fetch FUNdamental Retrieve Games
CONFIDENCE, OPTIMISM, FOCUS, AROUSAL UP, PROXIMITY, ENGAGMENT, DISENGAGEMENT, THINKING IN AROUSAL (RELATIONSHIP)
Bringing the ball or Frisbee back to you is not always a natural behavior for dogs. It can also be a behavior that can fall apart over time. So by building trust and value in the behavior, you can develop reliability in the long run. There are vital concepts to follow when reinforcing this behavior, a main one is that it has to have positive associations in the perspective of your dog. If, by bringing the toy back to you, you "take it away," that could be a game changer. Build and maintain the fun in retrieving.
Keep play sessions short. This helps keep arousal levels in check, and also minimizes any stress on the fragile joints and bones of a growing puppy.
Chaser Toy/Whip/Flirt Pole
CONFIDENCE, FOCUS, AROUSAL UP, ENGAGEMENT, DISENGAGEMENT, IMPULSE CONTROL, THINKING IN AROUSAL
If your puppy loves chasing, using a chaser toy, also known as a whip or flirt pole, can be a game you can play to work through some physical energy and practice good manners and cues.
First things first - you must have good drive with chasing the toy. Don’t put all sorts of controls on the game too soon or you will suck the fun out of it.
Once you have good chase drive, work though some good manners:
- Drop: utilize a trade with a reward for letting go of the toy. If your puppy does not let go of the toy, stand on the cord and work your way closer to the toy. Wait for your dog to let go on her own.
- Add in Premack - Get it! to start the game.
- Add in sit and down cues before Cuing the Prmeack.