Exercises

Before you get started, we need to talk. 

How long is your dog comfortable being left alone? 

Oh! You can’t answer that question with absolute certainty right now? I figured! We’ve been working away here, but now we need a little more data before we move forward. 

It’s time for a reassessment! 

You might consider running an assessment once weekly to see how your dog is doing and if you can take bigger steps or if you need to step back. 

When you have done this reassessment, you might find that your dog who has worked up to a relaxed 3min can actually handle 5min (for example) before showing signs of stress/distress. If that is the case, we can aim for 5min as the end goal in the next mission! 

Remember that all dogs progress at different paces and there is no “right or wrong” – it simply is what it is. Train the dog you see in front of you, not the dog you think you have.  

Now that we know where we stand, we build our Mission based on this data! 

I don’t want you to get all excited and go out of control here, so keep your feelings in check! If your dog blew your mind with a 300% increase in tolerance, it may not happen again right away, so I tend to go a touch conservative but aim for close to that comfortable duration. 

Let’s say your dog was reassessed and instead of being comfortable for 8 seconds, he was relaxed for 45 seconds and then he was a bit stressed for 10 seconds longer and then he started to bark frantically. This doesn’t mean that his baseline is written in stone at 55 seconds. It means that we’re going to play around with the 45-50 second mark. Make sense?

This is huge progress, yes! But don’t think that we’re heading over to Starbucks to grab a coffee just yet. 

Speaking of Starbucks, let’s make a list for fun!

  • What can/will you do when you have a full 2 minutes of freedom?
  • What can/will you do when you have a full 15 minutes of freedom?
  • What can/will you do when you have a full 60 minutes of freedom?
  • What can/will you do when you have a full 2 hours of freedom?
  • What can/will you do when you have a full 4 hours of freedom?

I found that having this list tucked away somewhere was a great motivator for me. Now…that being said, if it stresses you out and makes you feel like you’re working at a snail’s pace, don’t do it. I want you to feel good about the process!