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Training calm into your dog

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Applying our hands to our pets through therapeutic touch is very powerful. Focusing on their reaction to our touch is beneficial as we have the opportunity to find where there may be lumps, bumps, scrapes or strains. One cannot help but to feel calm, connected to and trusted by their pet during this one-on-one time. With regular massage sessions you may even find your pet seeking you, stretching out and offering a paw or shoulder that needs work.

Bring training and touch together

Your body movement, your voice projection and how you deliver treats to your dog all affect his energy and level of engagement. How you would connect with Fido before he runs and agility course is much different than how you would draw him down as you go through a ritual before bedtime.

If you’ve practiced positive reinforcement training with a clicker or using a verbal marker such as ‘YES!’, then you know with using either a clicker or a verbal marker we can mark a moment in time where the dog was doing (or in some cases refraining from doing) an activity that we like and we’d like to see repeated freely by the dog again.

Time to move low and slow

Whether you begin with a calm dog or not, you can create calm that your dog will mirror. Capture calm in your dog:

  • Settle yourself on the floor with your dog.
  • Deliver a tasty treat to your dog using a slow, smooth movement. Extend your hand to your dog’s toes and slowly open your hand to offer the treat on the floor.
  • Slowly remove your hand and place it on your leg. Give your dog a moment of quiet before you do the same calm treat delivery to his toes.
  • Evan an exuberant dog will take the cue from your confortable position and your relaxed breathing. Look for your dog to move from standing, to sitting, to laying down where his hips are not square, but flopped to the side like melting butter.
  • Now it is time to mark the calm that your dog is offering. This is not the quick “click and treat” that is taught in training, but a slow click – depressing the clicker and releasing it gently. Follow up with that same purposeful and calm treat delivery moving your hand from you to his toes.
  • If your dog gets up or shifts around certainly allow that as it gives you the opportunity to again capture him laying down, stretching out and taking treats gently.
  • Click and reward for calm. You get even more with every mark and reward!

Now that you’ve given your dog the opportunity to offer a relaxed body, use this time on the floor to employ some basic therapeutic touch techniques like those demonstrated in Massaging Your Dog | Teacher's Pet with Victoria Stilwell and solidify your pet and forever owner bond.

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