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drharps

Teaching to calm/relax

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So my 2 year old pup has been doing great, but there is one question I have regarding training to relax. She has learned that by barking and chirping at us, she either gets let outside or will get training. We have started ignoring her to teach her to stop doing it and rewarding her when she lays down, but it's extremely slow going. Is this the best technique, or should we be more active in making her lay down and reward her so long as she stays down and relaxes. 

And to preemptively address it: we exercise her well. For instance, this morning we went on a 20 minute walk then did 45 minutes of high energy frisbee. When we got home, she stood in the living room barking at us to play with her. We did 5-10 minutes of intense training, then stopped and she continued barking at us. 

And we don't mind her being outside, but there are times (rain, evening, etc.) we want her inside with us. 

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You may be experiencing what's known as an extinction burst, which is why it's taking time and may even be looking like it's getting worse at first. The most important thing is to be consistent and patient. Keep up what you're doing and make sure you're doing it each and every time. Don't give in to her. Each time you do that it just teaches her that sometimes the unwanted behavior works and is actually one of the strongest reinforcers you can give her.

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also you may need to experiment to find the optimal amount/type of exercise... sometimes they can get like you describe if they have done too much or in a way that leaves them all amped up yet poorly able to control themselves. Kind of like little kids at bedtime ;)  I think it's pretty individual to each dog, in terms of what works best so can't make any general recommendation other than experiment!

-Pat

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The above advice is good. The pertinent thing is from your post:   "She has learned that by barking and chirping at us, she either gets let outside or will get training. "

So, you trained her to behave the way she is behaving. Now you need to train her to behave differently. It will take some time and a lot of patience and persistence because she has learned how to get what she wants. You now need to be 100% consistent with ignoring her. Play, training, exercise,  all needs to be on your schedule and not on hers. If she is highly persistent even when ignored for several minutes, try putting her in the crate for a few minutes, in another room entirely.  NOT as a punishment, just as a way of saying "that's enough, settle down now."

Another thing is teach her (at times when she is not already riled up) to go to a mat and lie down on it. Use an old bath mat, a towel, her bed, whatever. Train it like a trick: she goes to the mat and lies down and she gets rewarded with a treat. Once you have trained this into her you can use it to help settle her down when she is over excited.

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