Protocol for Relaxation

Protocol For Relaxation 🛏️

The original protocol was created by Dr. Karen Overall. I have modified it to be user-friendly and effective for a variety of purposes. (If you google “Dr. Karen Overall Protocol for Relaxation” her original will come up.)

Dr. Overall’s method is genius! But, I find the original to be really caught up in the variables, and not that clear about what the overall goal/method is. In this modified version, the variables are up to you and what is useful for your situation – and the protocol itself is very easy to follow and clear.


  • 10 minute practices

Items Needed

  1. Treats in treat pouch
  2. Dog bed, bath mat, folded up towel (or specific bed if I have recommended a specific bed)

The Game

  1. Set a flat dog bed in a central area.
  2. Stand in front of it.
  3. Wait for your pup (no prompting or cue) to walk onto it and down (unless I have told you sit is better for your dog).
    Say “yes” and reward with a treat fed to the mouth for remaining in a sit or down on the bed.
  4. Repeat the “yes” reward a few times without moving away.
  5. Then begin taking (mix it up) 1-4 steps away from the bed at different angles (never going behind your pup), and say yes at the furthest point before you head back (even if you are only 1 step away).
  6. Then walk back and slowly deliver the treat to their mouth. SLOW is key, as this is a relaxation protocol, not a fast trick or exciting agility move.
  7. If your pup hops off the bed, walk back in front of it calmly and wait until they get back on it. Start the game again calmly from step #3.
  8. Then work up to doing random things close by that aren’t too involved, such as pulling a book out of the shelf and putting it back, or walking to a window and looking out the window, etc. Always say “yes” when you are the furthest away just before heading back to reward, and return to the dog and treat to the mouth.
  • When you find this to be very easy and relaxing for your dog, begin to incorporate this routine into day-to-day routines, such as when you are folding towels (I say that because that is the only laundy that gets folded in this house!), doing food prep, or any other methodical task.

Troubleshooting: If Needed – Slow Treats Protocol

    Is your dog really hyped up when you try to deliver the treat to their mouth, and they pop up?

    When treating on the bed, move towards your pup with a treat in your hand. Your goal will be to feed them a treat with almost no movement on their part. If they move, freeze (don’t jerk away) and if necessary, slowly move the treat away. Then try again. Repeat this until you can get the treat to the dog’s mouth with no moving around or jerking for the treat.

    Do this consciously anytime they act too excited about the treats. Don’t add in the taking steps back etc. until this is going well.