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What to do when dog is barking during Karen Overall's relaxation mat training?

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My BC is great at laying on the mat and picked it up in very short order. I was following the protocol, but honestly I could run around the house, clap, knock on the door, etc. and she would just lay there. 

The issue I'm running into is she sometimes will lay there and bark. Occasionally  a stimulus will cause her attention to stray (usually a barking dog outside, or a person making noise outside the house), other times she's just making noise. She doesn't get up, she just lays there and barks. I'm curious what protocol is for this. Do I look away from her and not pay attention until she quiets? Do I stare at her showing displeasure until she quiets? 

My concern is she'll feel rewarded if I praise her or reward her when she stops. 


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I don't know what the relaxation mat training is that you are talking about. But if I were doing something like what I think you are describing and the dog barked, I would simply stop doing it.

By doing this you will find out if the dog actually likes it or not, because if every time the dog barks you stop and walk away, the dog will learn that barking makes you stop. If the dog likes what you are doing, eventually the dog wil refrain from barking so that you will continue doing what the dog likes. If the dog doesn't refrain from barking, it means the dog wants you to stop doing it, so stop.

There is no need to specifically reward her, and you shouldn't show displeasure. This relaxation thing is something YOU want to do. Which is fine, but since it is for the dog you need to find out if your dog wants you to do it or not. If she likes it, then continuing it will be all the reward she needs for not barking. If she doesn't want it, then she has successfully communicated that to you. Listen to your dog.

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On 11/13/2022 at 11:57 AM, alligande said:

am not familiar with the proctol, but took a quick google hunt. My suspicion is your dog is not relaxed, obviously has a great stay, but isn’t relaxed. A dog barking is not relaxed. 

All very true. Actually, if this were  my dog I stop doing the protocol immediately. If it is meant to relax the dog, it seems to have the opposite effect on this one.  Not all dogs will want that kind of thing. Wouldn't work on one of mine.

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  • 2 months later...

I've been using this protocol too with Bailey and have found it really helpful :)

Does she bark every time you do it or just some times? If only on certain occasions  I'd say to either pausethe protocol and try again later, or to lower the level. It sounds like her stay is very good but she's not relaxing  so you could start from Day 1 again and focus more on the calmness and relaxation aspect, rather than the stay as i run about or leave the room. 

Another similar programme that might help you is called Training Between The Ears, and helps teach dogs to relax themselves.

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  • 9 months later...

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