Dog Training Tips: Flop

Created 10/13/2015 at 01:15 PM

I’ve been been working on a calm command, Flop, for a while now, and I’m happy to announce that today we had some sudden and unexpected progress. Flop grew out of our typical exam exercise, where ADHdog lays on his back between my legs – I can then check his paws, see if his nails need to be trimmed… things like that. Flop is pretty similar, only he’s on his side, ideally with his head on the ground. The goal is to capture calmness, so that he has a go-to behavior for being relaxed – and relaxed is not a native state for this pup!

Well, today ADHdog finally began to Flop voluntarily, though he’s not exactly what I would call calm about it. I’m pretty sure that ADHdog’s thought process for Flop is as follows:

  • She’s clearly sitting on the couch reading. I should demonstrate my new relaxation skills!
  • I’ll come over real close, and put my head on the couch, and groan until she looks at me.
  • When she looks, I’ll throw myself down on the ground and sigh deeply.
  • She will give me a treat for being so good.

When no treat was forthcoming, I was treated to about 20 minutes of dramatic sighing so that I could see just how good and obedient he was acting. About ten minutes in, he rotated so that he could punctuate his sighs by poking my foot with his toe.

The key to capturing calmness, however, is to not reward the dog for intensity, even when their intensity is directed towards being intensely relaxed. Eventually he did give up and wander away to curl up in his bed beside the couch. He was, of course, rewarded with lavish praise and one of his favorite peanut butter treats!