Two-minute down stay!

Today my friend Sabrina had a doctor appointment in Rock Hill and asked if I’d like to go out for coffee with her afterwards! I’d had a stressful day, so I was happy to blow off some steam with a friend! The van is in the shop (why I was so stressed), so Sabrina had to pick me up.

We tried going to the new coffee place, Clutch, but they only had outdoor seating and it was mighty chilly! So we headed to Starbucks. Felix did a good job walking into the store, and didn’t try to sniff around too much (just a little, which I caught!) while I was looking at the menu and trying to figure out what to get.

Sabrina had left her phone in her car, so Felix and I ran outside to get it, and he did even better the second time going into the store. It’s a manual door, and he doesn’t do those as well as automatic doors.

We placed our orders and waited for them to be ready. I waited to get out his mat until after we had our coffees because I didn’t want to set him up in a long down stay and then break it to get coffee. Felix did a very good job heeling next to me when I went over to get the coffees two separate times (because they weren’t ready at the same time) even though there was a big sugary spot on the floor where several drinks had probably been spilled.

Then I settled him in on his mat while Sabrina and I chatted and had our coffee.

I’ve been working with Felix on doing a relaxed down stay while I’m eating. At home I try to give him a treat about every 2–3 bites. Now Felix hasn’t been inside many restaurants or cafes because of COVID (when I go in, I wear my mask and pull it down for every bite or sip). So I was paranoid about how he was behaving, especially since we were super visible with where we were sitting and people were walking by to get their coffees the whole time. It was very distracting, with lots of loud noises of coffee being made and people walking past.

Therefore I was over treating him. I was giving him a treat like every 15 or 20 seconds. He was doing a pretty good job, but Sabrina told me that I was amping him up by giving him treats so often. And she was right. He was so focused on getting the next treat that he wasn’t relaxing.

So I remembered that my friends on my email group had suggested I set a timer and watch it, and every certain number of seconds give Felix a treat. I got out my phone and put the stopwatch on, and every time I gave him a treat, I’d reset the lap time of the stopwatch. I started out at 20 seconds, and then quickly went up to 30 seconds. Sabrina told me that I could probably do a minute, but I didn’t believe Felix could handle that due to the distracting nature of our location.

So we chatted and I kept doing random amounts of time, with a gradually increasing average. The next thing I knew I was at a full minute and Felix was totally relaxed. I kept gradually increasing the max time by 15 seconds, while still keeping the minimum time around 45 seconds, until I finally made it to the two-minute mark! At that point, we decided to end on a high note and leave.

I was so happy Sabrina invited me out for coffee. We had a really fun time talking, and her advice really helped me with Felix. It’s wonderful to have such a good friend!

I got two photos while we were there of the dogs. One of Felix, a sable and white Japanese Chin wearing a purple harness, lying on his rainbow mat. I got another picture of Indy, a cream Golden Retriever, lying on her red mat next to Sabrina’s cool brown boots.

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