Early Morning Training: Trying the Behavioral Down Protocol

Sunday morning I woke up with a migraine, so all adventure plans with the pups were pushed back. As I looked over my "to do" list, I saw my weekly reminder to practice the behavioral down exercise with the dogs over the weekend.

Why not, I thought. Since we can't go anywhere as we wait for some medication to kick in, we might as well do some low-impact training. I put Bernie in the bedroom with Matthew, so they could have some quality snuggles while Lizzie and I tried the behavioral down protocol from Training Between the Ears with Mark McCabe.

Lizzie is all smiles to have some one-on-one time with me...

Lizzie McSquare and I start our first try at the Behavioral Down Protocol in the living room on an early Sunday morning.

Our Missy Moo is a quick study...

Within the first two to three minutes of beginning the behavioral down exercise, Lizzie tried twice to jump onto the couch. Both times she failed, so by minute five, she relaxed into a comfortable down.

For the full instructions on the behavioral down protocol, please read "Trying a Behavioral Down: Building Pup Confidence?" when I tried this exercise with Bernie.

Lizzie mcSquare in a pretty relaxed down position on the living room floor, comfy on our multi-colored throw.

Adjusting her comfy down...

After I snapped a few pictures, she got up to readjust her down position. As she was settling in for the second time, she saw Bernie's shadow under the door. She spent a minute or so staring at the bedroom door, but ultimately she decided to just relax and put her chin on the floor too.

She stayed down for about two minutes.

Bernie was pacing in the bedroom, so he caught Lizzie's attention. She started staring at the bedroom door, but never moved out of her down.
Lizzie gets super comfy in a relaxed down on the living room floor.

Changing tactics...

Since she had technically gotten up in the living room and then immediately went back into a more comfortable down, I wasn't sure if that would count as the two downs required for this exercise. The living room also seemed like an easy environment since the pups relax there all the time with me and Matthew.

I decided to change up our location, so we moved into the kitchen. Lizzie spent a minute sniffing the floor, probably detecting lingering breakfast smells.

For her second down, I decided to move into the kitchen to see if the tile posed more of a challenge. Lizzie started sniffing comfortably right away.

She relaxed right away...

After her mini-sniffing spree, Lizzie settled into a down that looked pretty relaxed. Twice she looked up at me, and a few times she looked around the kitchen. However, for most of the next two minutes or so, she just rested her chin between her front paws and waited to see what would happen next.

We spent a total of 12 minutes running through the behavioral down exercise in both the living room and kitchen. Normally, Lizzie is quite the energetic morning pup, so I thought trying this relaxation exercise would be a bit of a challenge for her. Maybe she was sensing my headache or maybe she was having an off-morning. Either way, she decided that settling and relaxing was a wise choice almost immediately.

To truly test if she understands the benefits of relaxing, I'm going to wait until the next time she gets the zoomies. Then I'll clip on her lead and give the behavioral down protocol another try.

Lizzie McSquare looking up at me from her super relaxed down on the kitchen tile.
Mostly Lizzie McSquare just stayed in her down position wondering what I was doing. She completed the behavioral down exercise with lightning speed.

Switching up to some practice with Place...

I still had some time before my medication would really start working, so I poured another cup of coffee, grabbed the Casper dog beds, threw the freshly laundered clothes on the couch, and gave the Place command to Lizzie and Bernie.

Practicing Place while I fold laundry and put away all the clothes and towels is one of my favorite tests for the pups. Generally, they relax quickly because they know Place is one of those boring commands. As I fold different types of clothes, I also put those items away creating movement around the pups to check their understanding of Place.

As I finished up folding one load of laundry another load finished. Perfect timing! By the time I finished folding and putting away the second load, about 30 minutes had gone by and my migraine was gone! 

Lizzie McSquare relaxing on her Casper dog mattress with some toys as she practices the PLACE command.
Bernie McSquare also relaxes on his Casper dog bed while he's practicing the PLACE command.
Early Morning Training: Trying the Behavioral Down Protocol with Lizzie McSquare

What kind of easy activities or low-impact training
do you practice when you're not feeling 100%?

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