• Michael D’Abruzzo

    December 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Hi guys sorry for the late response on this.  This is the way that I currently use the word “easy”.  I don’t use it so much as a command as I do to anticipate a non-aggressive action to make conditioning and counter-conditioning easier.  If it were a command, I would want the dog to obey and follow some action or rule until told otherwise.  In this case, it just means that something will happen that you may not like, but it will usually result in something desirable.  So, in this old video I introduce it to a puppy during puppy massage, and then it eventually could be used for other invasive things such as someone else touching her while I say easy before she is touched, then I would give her praise, and the reward with affection, treat, etc..

    Note in the video, that the leg pressure (technically positive punishment and negative reinforcement) is not necessary for teaching what “easy” means.  I am doing that just to discourage struggling during restraint.  The exercise can be done without the restraint on an older dog.

    After, I used to introduce punishment if the dog mouthed or tried to bite someone after I said “easy”.  Then, it became more of a command.  So, easy would mean to the dog that something was going to happen that you may not like that would be followed by one of two consequences depending on the dog’s behavior.  If the dog accepted it, the dog would be rewarded.  If the dog tried to bite the dog would receive some form of correction (a basic three term contigency).  I haven’t personally taught it to a new dog in few years because it became somewhat redundant for the exercises I was doing.  For instance, in protection training I usually have the dog follow a simple command such as sit, heel, etc.. if I am interacting with someone.  No biting is implied if the dog is in command, and I do not force the dogs to be pet by someone that the dog has no interest in.  I work on the owner preventing someone who shouldn’t pet the dog, from petting the dog.  With dog on dog aggression, I usually diffuse situations by having an aggressor “leave-it” which is to disengage.

    With all that being said, there may still be some uses for adding the consequence of punishment to the command if the dog bites.  From a practical and respectful point of view, almost all incidents where easy would also imply no-biting there is something going on that is best managed.  For instance, I do not allow owners of people aggressive dogs to let strangers pet their dogs if the dog clearly has no interest in them just like I wouldn’t force my children to hug and kiss someone they didn’t know.  I generally, have the owners read the dog’s body language and wait until it is mutual in these cases.

    It is a subject that can be open to much discussion.  If you have more questions please ask.