We’re going to do the sit around and do nothing exercise.
This video is about 7 minutes long, but there is a lot to observe as you watch each dog; and you can see that none of these dogs is bored in this situation. The actual exercise was 25 minutes long.
It looks very easy, but to prep for this exercise all students have had four private lessons with Ali, have read “Scaredy Dog!”, have a dog who is comfortable and relaxed in the car they arrived in (car work is a prerequisite), have audited at least one reactive class, and are prepared with a clicker and bag full of tasty treats.
The exercise really does consist of everyone and their dogs sitting around and doing nothing. Positioned in a huge circle, all participants are in full view of everyone else but far enough away so the dogs can remain below threshold.
The students take turns moving 5’ closer to each other at one-minute intervals. However, while they’re sitting around they have to be extremely cognizant of their dog’s disposition and arousal level. The dogs are generally sitting calmly and looking at their surroundings and the other dogs. They get clicked and treated mainly for looking at other dogs calmly and then looking back at their owner. For reactive dog owners, this can be a big advancement in their dogs’ behavior.
But you’ll see that Diane’s dog, Quincy, is not calm due to a loud noise he heard outside. He is doing OK when he’s positioned inside the garage, but he’s too on edge to actually be moved to a position just outside of the garage door. Diane and Ali decide he should go back just inside the garage to settle down. So for a while, everyone else moves 5’ at a time toward the garage.
Eventually, Quincy gets comfortable with the situation and ventures out of the garage to walk around in front of the other dogs who are still positioned some distance away. He even takes to opportunity to give the cameraman a short quiet “wuf”.