Most dog behavior that bothers us dog owners is due to too much excitement. Therefore, many wish to be able to relax the dog at any time. At home this often happens with soothing words and pats; However, physical contact and rest are not always possible outside. Fortunately, conditioned relaxation can help produce the desired effect.
What exactly is conditioned relaxation in dogs?
Dogs can learn to calm down and relax on a certain signal. For this to work, the four-legged friend must link the word with a subjective feeling of relaxation. In the end, the principle works like this: You give a signal word that connects your dog to relaxation, whereupon he actually relaxes. The feeling of well-being is artificially created to a certain extent. In addition to a signal word, the trigger can also be another stimulus, such as an odor or an optical sign. Comparable from the world of people, for example, is the particular smell of a dish from our childhood - perhaps our grandma's milk rice - in which we immediately feel transported back to a stress-free past. In any case, your dog must associate the signal with a comforting, positive feeling in order to become more relaxed in certain situations when he perceives the signal.
This is how you condition your dog for relaxation
In order for your dog to combine command with a sense of wellbeing, you must consistently and patiently condition it. Whenever he is completely relaxed, you have to say the signal word such as "Easy" or "Quiet". It is important that you only repeat this process in real moments of relaxation and not in a continuous loop, but preferably only once or twice clearly.
Example: Your dog is enjoying his favorite pet next to you. While you cuddle him comfortably and see that he relaxes completely, say the word "Easy". You do not have to expect any reaction from him - the conditioning takes place unconsciously in the line. The command only serves to ensure that your dog combines the sound with the pleasant cuddle situation.
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Physiological processes ensure relaxation
It has been proven that when relaxing - for example through massages or strokes - dogs release certain "relaxation substances" via physiological processes. If the conditioning on a certain signal word succeeds as described above, you can ensure that these substances are released even if your dog only hears the command - even without direct relaxation by petting or similar methods. Of course, this does not mean that your dog immediately becomes completely calm and comes good to you. It only lowers the arousal level a little so that further steps - such as actively petting your four-legged friend - can follow.