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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Today is a Great Day to Start Dr Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol


Developed by Dr Karen Overall, the Relaxation Protocol is a great tool for nervous dogs, hyper dogs, noise phobic dogs, dogs who have separation anxiety, etc..

Dogs learn how to relax while other things are happening around them. To summarize RP, the dog learns to stay in one spot while the pet parent performs increasingly distracting tasks. But it's not a "stay" exercise. 
Details of the protocol are in Dr Overall's book, Clinical Behavioral Medicine For Small Animals, published 1997, or her book of the same title published in 2013. But this protocol is so popular and has been used so often, that pet guardians can easily find it using an Internet search. See one link that Puddin and I found here. Here is an MP3 version

Some things to consider when using the protocol: - If a dog has aggression or biting issues, get with a highly skilled professional before attempting .

- Personally, I prefer not to use any physical manipulation to get the dog in place. If a dog will not sit or lie down, rule out medical/physical reasons. Then work on teaching the dog sit or down (force free) before starting the protocol. 
Or Capture the dog when he or she is already relaxed and start the protocol from there. 

-- Pet parents can also work on making the mat a happy place before starting the protocol 

- Many dogs will be more comfortable in a "down", rather than a "sit". 

- Pet guardians should work at their companion's pace. Although the protocol is broken down into 15 days, some dogs might take 30 or 40 days or more to get through the protocol successfully. 

-- Example, a day one task requires that the dog sits while the human takes a step backwards. Some dogs might not be ready for this on the first day. The pet guardian might have to make smaller movements at first- like lifting a finger or moving an arm or lifting a leg, etc.. 

January 1st (and fireworks) are about 2 weeks away.  So today might be a great time to start RP. Don't rush through the process though - since many dogs might take longer than 2 weeks to complete all the steps. But if you start now, your pup might be a bit more calm by New Years.

Also, if you have a dog who doesn't care for visitors, RP can help your dog relax while alone. Which means your dog might be less stressed if you send him/her off to a room while you receive holiday guests.

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