The activities help build a better relationship between dog and pet guardian. The activities reveal how adog processes what they are learning. Activities create a base to where a dog is in the learning continuum. All this helps proceed with a customized behavior modification program to help the dog be successful, while building eustress, the good stress chemicals that enhance the learning experience, create confidence and give renewed energy and well-being.
Relationship building is important, especially if a dog guardian has lost trust in their dog. From mentally stimulating activities, interactive play, energy releasing activity, working on key pieces of behavior modification and scheduled full rest periods, guardian and dog will not only come to see each other in a new light, but will build positive associations while the bad stress chemicals release from the body so learning replaces confusion and inconsistency. The whole family can be involved in this critical stress releasing period.
What do the activities reveal about the dog?
The unreliable canine. The definition of unreliable is one of not being dependable or untrustworthy. Activities will reveal this in many ways. Is the dog eager to do the task or do they walk away, give up, don’t even try? Does the pet guardian find themselves becoming frustrated because the dog doesn’t or isn’t able to carry out a simple task? Does the dog growl at, back away, refuse to participate? This is a dog who is unreliable, one who needs to gain trust and feel safe before they can even start an in-depth behavior modification or skills program Patience, perseverance and a specific plan is needed to progressively work with and move this dog forward.
As you can see already the mentally tiring activities are formulated to observe how the dog processes information, learns, participates. The activities evaluate how stressed the dog has become. Let’s look at what else the activities will reveal.
The short sessions are better canine. This is the dog that 10 to 20 repetitions will stress them out, not release stress. This dog may very well just need one or two repetitions in the beginning with the objective to increase duration slowly and incrementally. This is the way the behavior modification process will need to go for this dog, meaning short sessions, keeping sessions successful and a lot of rest periods in between training.
The irritable canine. Usually health issues are the reason for the irritable canine. This dog will have a lot of stress signals from licking themselves, itching, scratching, shaking it off, yawning, rapid tongue flicks and more to avoid an activity or during an activity or even after the activity is over. This is usually the dog who doesn’t like to be touched, will snap if certain parts of body are touched, and who just a simple activity becomes too much for them.
Dogs might be dealing with a combination of the above and the games might reveal other positive attributes as well, such as a dog who likes to burrow, or chew, or likes certain types of toys or activity. These can be used as functional rewards during behavior modification or as a clue to what this dog needs to be doing in their life to be building eustress. This section will reveal the eager-to-please dog, the dog who doesn’t want to stop learning, the dog who tires easily, and so much more. It is a time to observe what the dog does, how they process information and not a time to institute an obedience program.
Observation and analysis
While the CED is to release distress, chronic/acute stress through deep sleep, getting there reveals much about the individual. During the entire process, especially mentally tiring activities and games, trainers (dog guardians) will want to write down and observe, making answers detailed and specific:
How does the dog play?
How does the dog relax? How long does it take?
What is dog’s problem-solving style?
Does dog have the ability to focus? Does dog lose focus?
Does dog enjoy food? Are there any problems while dog is eating?
Does the dog have the ability to withstand boring stuff or repetition? Can dog concentrate on task?
Does the dog enjoy husbandry interactions, such as grooming and touch?
Let’s look at the problem-solving details. There are five problem-solving activities likely to be a part of a CED. How Dogs Think by Biologist Immanuel Birmelin is the source for the specific problem-solving activities in the CED. Birmelin’s book has an end chapter on daily mental activities that is a valuable resource to use postCED.
These five are chosen to take a look at sensory, to evaluate how a dog thinks that could be beneficial in a results-oriented behavior modification process, and to further evaluate stress levels and triggers. Color recognition can evaluate whether the dog has a keen eyesight or not and used as an eye test, while size and shape problems evaluate if a dog is a systematic thinker, or just does what worked the first time. Do they use their nose only, or do they think, or do they do nothing, or do they have a fear of objects? The clue test is a more advanced problem and evaluates how guardian handles teaching their dog, as well as how observant dog is in interacting with guardian.
Beginner level: Yellow or blue will be the color the reward is under OR
Advanced level dogs: a click/treat is given for offering a nose touch to the correct color.
NOTE : Most dogs will not be at the beginner level. Some dogs will be highly fearful of objects or even learning and will be at remedial learning level, revising to just one cup, with treat on top of cup or cup on side and treat close by, or cup lip resting on a reward making it highly successful for these dogs. NOT being able to do this exercise at all, even at most remedial level, simply means you need to build this dog’s confidence slowly, by introducing objects and making learning fun.
Each dog will have their own style of learning and interaction.
Process: (Beginner level; revise to Advanced Level (touch/click/reward)
From this exercise, the information you gain for a progressive behavior modification process will be:
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