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Exercise of the Week: Sometimes Things are Boring.

Did you like last week's "exercise of the week?" It was the Moving Down, an exercise from the sport of Rally Obedience. I hope you gave it a try. If you weren't in to that one though, here's another (non-fancy, "back to basics" type) exercise to try. 

This one's called Sometimes Things are Boring. Like a lot of the K-9 Prodigy training methods, it's adapted from service dog training. The life of a service dog always seems so glamorous, until you realize that it actually comes down to a lot of standing and waiting around.

Go to the post office, stand around. Go to the bank, stand around. Go to work at god forbid an office for eight hours and lie down and wait around. Maybe there's a quick flurry of taskwork somewhere in there, if the handler needs it. A dropped item -- hooray! A door to open or close -- yipee! But mostly there's a lot of hanging around. Most of the day is just Been There, Done That, I'll just lie down till my owner needs me.

For many pet dogs, however, the daily walk is the most exciting thing of the day! Things to sniff! Other dogs and people to meet! Maybe the handler even has treats or toys as training rewards! Maybe we're going some place exciting! Wheeeeeee!

If your dog gets all vamped up the moment you step outside the door, and if you have trouble controlling him or her, maybe it's time to take a quick lesson from the service dogs, and give this exercise "Sometimes Things Are Boring" a try!

Here's what you do. Leash up. Walk outside. (Follow any leashing or door-related protocols you normally do, such as refusing to leash up until the dog is sitting still or asking for a sit and stay before walking out the front door.) Once you get outside, instead of plunging right in to the sidewalk, why not sit on the porch or something and read your mail? Sit there (or literally just stand around) until the dog is totally relaxed. Then you MIGHT go for a little walk. Or you might not. You might just go back inside!

If you do walk, just repeat the same stretch of sidewalk a few times, then go in. "This is not that interesting," the dog seems to be thinking after a couple of passes, "I got all worked up for THAT?"

What's going on here? Many dogs are conditioned to automatically become excited and wild when they go out on walks, because going out on walks is always fun and exciting. If every so often you make a walk *not* fun and exciting, then it breaks the "always" part of the conditioning, and you will begin to see your dog walking more calmly, not pulling so hard on the lead, and not whipping himself up into a frenzy! 

There are some other more advanced things you can do with this basic exercise -- it's a good one to use for distraction work, and you can even use it for obedience training! Go ahead -- give it a try!

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