Beau, rehearsing ‘Easy’ with his mentor.
First the animal is taught to recognize and change their own mental states. This is called ‘Conditioned Relaxation.’ Next, the animal rehearses their ability to attain and maintain relaxation, regardless of the environment. This is done through progressive steps called ‘Cycles.’ There is more, but this is the basic idea.
What is Conditioned Relaxation?
Conditioned Relaxation is a process of teaching an animal to be aware of his mental state, to be aware of an opposing mental state, and to be able to choose between the two.
What are Cycles?
Cycles are progressive steps used to help the animal learn to be able to attain and maintain relaxation despite innate and environmental triggers and stimuli. It is a process of presenting the stimuli, and triggers, (or pieces of the triggers) to an animal in a relaxed state, in a progressive series – but only as long as the animal is able to maintain relaxation.
Empowered with relaxation skills, most animals will maintain relaxation in order to gain access to the triggers.
Example: Dog barks at postman. We tell the dog, :”Get easy and we will bring the postman toward you.” The dogs must relax and maintain relaxation in order to bring the postman closer.
While we tend to think that the dogs want the postman to leave, we see that most dogs will work to bring the postman closer. But we then work with the dogs to remove the arousal, in return for letting them experience the approach of the postman. It is counterintuitive, but it works.
As the dog learns more about his emotional options, he learns to really enjoy staying relaxed. Initially, the dog is not thinking about what he is doing, he is just acting out. We lead him to examine what he does – and why. In the end, he makes better, healthier, safer choices.
Next: What else is involved in Perception Modification?