Tuesday Topics 16 - Release Command

When it's time for Cabana to eat, she sits and waits very nicely. We release her to eat by saying "okay". But lately, probably in the past month, Cabana doesn't respond the first time we say okay. She just sits there and won't start eating. Sometimes, we have to say it several times or say it just the right way. Other times, I have to give her a little pat on the back of her neck before she'll dig in.

In the above clip, the first time I said "okay", I said it too softly--but mostly because I was being camera shy and didn't want my voice to be heard (not really too smart, considering the purpose of this video clip!). But even if we say it loudly and authoritatively, usually, Cabana doesn't respond the first time. Here, Cabana responds the second time, maybe because I said her name first. But there are days when we do this and she still doesn't respond.

We've never, ever punished Cabana for not waiting. She learned it very easily months ago and has done it consistently ever since. So I don't understand her recent hesitation. It's like she's nervous about doing it wrong.

And I don't want to teach bad habits by giving the command more than once. So I need to figure it out before it gets worse. Has anyone else had this happen? If we stick to our guns and only say "okay" once, then Cabana just sits and sits, drooling hungrily. Should we just wait it out, no matter how long it takes, and not give the command again?

Here's a clip of Cabana licking her bowl clean. She likes to get every last nuance of flavor. This clip is from the same meal as the above clip--the bowl has moved quite a bit on the rug!

raiserally  – (June 16, 2009 at 11:28 AM)  

I'm sure your leader will have an idea but all pups I've dealt with go through this period, in fact Eola's going through it right now. Generally I just say "okay" again as it just seems to be a phase they go through but if you're reluctant to do that (and you say it doesn't work sometimes) and a touch on the head/neck/back releases her in conjuntion with the okay you can use that (I would think it's fine) as to begin with they're hand placed into a sit and down and stand and eventually learn it without a touch, it may just be a reassurance at this point for her. I'd proof her though so if you touch in the same way but don't say okay she doesn't break her wait or stay command.

She should get over it though :-D

Brittany  – (June 16, 2009 at 11:58 AM)  

Practice with a tug toy! Play tug, tell her "thats enough" and then "wait", slowly move the toy back and forth until you can tell she is just itching to get it, and then give the "ok".

If she doesn't go for it DON'T REPEAT THE COMMAND. Just keep moving the toy around faster and faster until she goes for it. Then praise, throw a party, and tug, tug, tug! Then immediatly repeat the exercise and she should go after it when you say "ok".

Practice this every day, every time you play tug. She should start to understand better that if she moves when you say "ok" good things happen. For now, when you feed her, maybe get close to her while she is waiting, pet her, and then give the "ok" but try to only say it once, and then praise her a lot when she goes to the food.

Hope this helps!

Brittany  – (June 16, 2009 at 12:02 PM)  

Also, when she is eating, when you say "ok" if she even flinches or seems like she starts to go for the food, praise her! That will encourage her to do whatever it was she thought about (probably getting the food). I hope that made sense.

Lisa and Ellie  – (June 16, 2009 at 3:09 PM)  

Ellie does this too. It's like she looks at me like did you really mean it - usually just a nod of the head or a hand signal with the "okay" makes her feel like I'm serious and not just teasing her with a fake okay! Silly girls!

OSU 98  – (June 17, 2009 at 6:17 AM)  

I love that she is licking her bowl like she will never be fed again. :)

Even though she is just a pet, sometimes Chelsie will look at me when I give her the "ok" to go ahead and eat. I usually give her a kiss on her nose and then release her, but if I don't giver her a little smooch, she looks at me like I am crazy...silly dog.

And if mother Nature thinks we should have cold showers, she is very, very cruel...AGAIN, this morning it was luke warm and I about lost it. I flew downstairs, left the water running in the shower....only to find I had not turned the switch on the heater to to "ON" when I re-lit it last night...it was still on "PILOT". REALLY??? So yet another LUKEWARM shower, but the gas is now in the "ON" position and I have it cranked up pretty high. I am seriously going to rip the thing out of the ground if I get another cold shower...

And finally, Timbits are the equivalent of what you west coasters call "donut holes" from Winchell's. :) Plain ones are Chelsie's favorite (she always gets them after agility trials, sometimes after voluntering and sometimes after a nice long, hard swim)As she thinks every drive thru is a Tim Horton's (where we get Timbits) her behavior in drive thrus is nothing short of embarassing 99% of the time. :) Oh yeah, and then she drools on me as I am trying to get them out of the bag and give them to her...thankfully after she eats them, she returns to her normal, well behaved self in the car....

Madison and Butler  – (June 17, 2009 at 6:55 AM)  

As my puppies get older and they KNOW they have to wait for me to say OKAY they get more careful about when they should go. Usually I just start a time when I make it VERY clear that I mean OK go now...I gesture to indicate what I mean, I get excited, etc. I do this until they grasp again what OKAY means. Both Andros and Conover started doing this. Brittany's idea was a great one!

Dakota's Puppy Raiser  – (June 18, 2009 at 10:03 AM)  

We've had similar situations! I'd just give an eager, excited, happy "Okay!" and then walk away. She'll get the idea. :-) What a sweet puppy!

Poppy The Puppy  – (June 19, 2009 at 5:33 PM)  

Here's the official word (after meeting with our CFR yesterday). Though OK is a "command" is not a typical command. It is releasing them from what they are doing. Never never correct them for not "releasing" - encouragement only. If they don't immediately release, get excited, clap, raise the pitch of your voice and repeat OK. It's OK to repeat :)

If we enforce the "don't repeat commands" rule with this one, what are the options? Correcting them? That's just going to make them nervous. If we just wait them out, they will also be nervous. If we just jump and get excited, they will be losing their control in the release. So, get chirpy and repeat OK.

What we do is get Poppy to anticipate the OK. We are "Are you ready to eat? Really? Are ya ready? You think you are hungry? Do you look hungry enough???" Then, when she's just about ready to explode, we give the OK and she bounds over to her bowl.

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