OK……. Conditioned Relaxation is one of those hot topics going around. And, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 6 months…… you’ve seen it. Or, at least heard it described. The typical view of CR goes like this:
“CR is using massage to get a dog relaxed.”
Massaging a dog until they relax IS NOT putting relaxation on cue!
I mean….. Yes……. you do need to use massage to get the dog relaxed. But that shouldn’t be the way it stays forever.
Look at Sit. I can push the butt to the floor to “create” sit. But if someone says “Did you teach your dog to sit?”, you wouldn’t say “Sure, watch.”, then push their butt down.
If you’re still pushing their butt down…… That dog don’t know sit!
There in lies the rub (pun).
People see the massage wrong.
The first mistake people make in CR with “touch” is they pet, scratch, or stroke the dog. And that might be “relaxing”…… But not on a Therapeutic level. If I went to a massage therapist and they gently stroked my hair…… Not what I need.
Then, once people realize the therapeutic benefit of touch, they begin to go to “work” on their dogs.
AND IT WORKS!!!
Then comes the second mistake.
Since it works, they keep using it.
Like people that say “My dog knows sit”, but they have to have food in hand!
You can get your dog relaxed but you’re still relying on the inducting method.
You’re still pushing on the butt, or grabbing a cookie for sit!
Like all solid obedience commands….. You want to wean of needing to induce, or coerce!
Have had a number of conversations over the past couple of weeks that has made me realize that people don’t “get” the idea that it’s an “obedience command”.
Woman dreads the toll booth, cause her dog blows up.
I, after suggesting crating the dog till they’re past the issue, said “Cool, work his CR until you can use it a the Toll Booth”.
She asked, “How am I supposed to massage him from the drivers seat at the toll booth?”.
Last night, I was doing a little clinic for a local rescue. Several of the volunteers were clients. And I was talking about dealing with difficult dogs. CR came up. I got a gut feeling the above example wasn’t a lone misunderstanding. And, I said…. “You guys know that CR isn’t just massaging your dog till they relax”.
And, holy shit……. almost every single one of the people that I HAD TAUGHT were shocked. Like…. kinda upset.
Like…… “What the fuck do yo mean it ain’t massage?!?!??!”
Now I know break things down well. And, I know that I am very careful in my teaching to avoid misguided learning. And, if my own clients, I taught myself, are confused about that…….
There’s no way folks out on the interwebs trying to self teach aren’t fucking that up.
And there’s no way the skeptic “CR is bullshit” crowd isn’t using that as reasons to dismiss.
Hell, that WOULD be bullshit.
You can’t give your dog a 10 minute deep tissue massage every time you drive through the toll booth!
But…. you have to induce it to “capture” it.
Food goes up- butt goes down. Once that’s reliable you name it sit. Once they “know” it….. you fade off the food.
CR is the same…. Massage to induce relaxation. Name it. Fade off massage.
Both are oversimplified….. there is more to food luring & CR but, you get the point.
Anyway, if you’re still reliant on food lures, leash pressure, or butt pushing…… Your Sit isn’t “finished”.
If you’re still breaking out the massage table for a long session…… Your CR isn’t finished.
Yeah…. It’s kinda the defining feature.
But it’s not the “END”.
For more info on CR:
Go directly to the source. Kayce Cover!
Chad Mackin covers CR in his Dogmanship Workshop.
And I do it in several of my workshops as well!