Never underestimate the power of relaxation. It’s a skill that too few people – and very few canines – have truly mastered. I always emphasize the importance of teaching self-control, especially to owners of young and energetic dogs. Having shared my home with a border collie mix for the past four years, it is a skill I can truly appreciate the importance of first-hand.
There are numerous ways to teach this important skill, although my go-to method is Dr. Karen Overall’s Protocol for Relaxation (from Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals, First Edition), which provides an excellent systematic method for mastering the three “D”s of a stay – distance, duration and distraction. Additionally, Dr. Overall’s basic set-up can be altered to focus on areas of particular concern for a given dog.
In this video, Sirius Black demonstrates Day 5 of Dr. Overall’s protocol. He has not quite mastered the “relaxed” part of it, as I point out in a few places.
And don’t just think about your dog. Consider going in for a few deep-breathing and relaxation exercises yourself. Relaxation will help you deal more easily with any frustrations or concerns, whether with your dog or more generally!