Yesterday my neighbor came to my door. Elsa ran ahead of me barking at her arrival. I answered the door and remembered that I still had a treat stuck in my top which I was very happy about. This is the type of moment that all the boundary training practice is for. I didn't ask her in because I'm sick as is my son who gave this to me. So she stood just outside of my door while we chatted. Having a treat in hand I rewarded Miss Elsa for not going out the open door. It is tough for her, she loves people but because of all of our work she sat and seemed quite happy to just listen.
Only two times during our conversation did she flinch. All that was required to remind her was a calm Ahh from me. That is until my neighbor said "okay, I'm going to go." "Okay" is Elsa's release word and when she heard it she got up but I quickly responded and she learned that it is only Mom's okay that releases. I was very proud of her; she did amazing, not going out the door and sitting quietly while we talked. The outcome would not have been as good if I had not had treats on me. One treat was all it took to convince her that doing what she had learned previously was the best choice.
I did not ask her to sit; she chose to do that on her own. But it made watching her movements easier. With a little error marker of "ah" as she moved closer to the door was all that was needed and she sat her butt down again. Elsa is extremely intelligent with a high level of comprehension of both body language and vocal sounds. Typically I just utter a deep mmm without even opening my mouth when I need to give her an error marker.
Once I closed the door I gave her the "okay," and she hopped around happily. We had a giant group snuggle and went on with our day. The word has great power. I had considered changing it for our newest puppy (Elsa) but it just came out naturally as we started on our relationship. I've been using okay for over 37 years; hard to change now. "Okay," is my release word and it is this word and only this word that gets her out of the car, free to eat her food that is placed on the floor and many, many other things.
I proof my release word often.
Proof: the act of testing or making trial of anything,; test; trial.
Proofing creates a more solid understanding of the word "okay." When we arrive at the park Elsa is required to sit in the back of my Xterra until given the word. She is chomping at the bit causing her to anticipate often. So with several different words said in the same tone as her release; as well as arm gestures that might be mistaken for releases she is learning that it is only one word that is the key to enjoyment. If she should make a mistake then we start over. It is very important to stop and start over if a mistake is made with a release word.
Very early this morning at about 4:30 am I could hear my son up and getting ready for work. Elsa heard him too and with that she wanted up to sleep with Mom. With my throat feeling like I had a handful of razor blades down it I whispered "okay." That is all it took and she was up and snuggled in within a fraction of a second. I smiled thinking what power the word has as I drifted back asleep under the weight of my live comforter. :)