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Dog Behavior Library

Canine Jolly Routine


WHAT IS THE JOLLY ROUTINE?

The "Jolly Routine" is a term coined by the renowned canine behaviorist William Campbell.  It means the pet parent should "act" relaxed and happy or "jolly."

Demo. of the Jolly Routine

This technique provides the dog Emotional Leadership. The pet parent demonstrates to the canine that this situation is not tense, to help the dog lighten up. 

DIRECTIONS

1)   Consciously relax your body posture and muscle tone. Be loose and wiggly, NOT still. Dogs read "frozen" or still body postures as tension or perceived threat.

2)   If the dog is responding fearfully to a stimulus such a person, animal, or object, then focus your attention and friendly body postures at the stimulus to show you are not afraid or threatened by it.  Otherwise, focus on the dog.

3)   Talk in silly, high pitched, "Baby Talk."  Your tone, not what you say, is important.

4)   Your goal is to help the dog relax and move his or her brain away from concern to acceptance. A loose, relaxed body tone - even getting curious - are good signs.  

5)   Request a SIT, and if the dog can do it praise big, and if not, move the dog away from the situation, and find a way to get a SIT, so you can praise that instead of the tense postures.

WHEN DO YOU DO THE JOLLY ROUTINE?

This technique is indicated when the dog is tense, either with fear or potential aggression.  It is a positive alternative to the all the most common things people do - that are wrong and only increase the dog's tension as well as reinforce the dog's impression that something is bad.

DO NOT:

1)   Scold the dog - this is perceived by the dog as aggressive threats and heightens both aggression and fear.

2)   Punish the dog - same as scolding but adds proof that something is bad, probably now associated with the original stimulus

3)   Try to soothe or calm the dog - misinterpreted by the dog as agreeing with their perception and response thus reinforcing the fearful or aggressive behavior

Your dog will respond more to your actions than to your words. Make sure your body language and actions are giving the same message.

WHAT IF THE SITUATION WON'T ALLOW IT?

The second best thing to offering emotional leadership through the Jolly Routine is to look away and ignore the tense response. Try to lead the dog gently away from the stimulus.

CAN YOU GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE?

Below is a link to a video of a poodle who is afraid of thunder. In the video, the "Jolly Routine" is useful as well as most other situations where the dog becomes tense.

In this video, a dog is also somewhat tense (note stress panting) from being on the exam table in a veterinary hospital. Slowly, the Jolly Routine results in a smile and wag of his tail. This occurs toward the end of the video.  Best viewed with a broadband web connection.

Demo of the Jolly Routine

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