We have always used the ‘manning down’ technique with our puppies with great success.  This means that we sit quietly with them regularly and hold them.  Now sometimes that’s easier said than done!  Particularly if they are squirmy or active.  But manning teaches them that when we hold them they need to settle down and relax.  We do this for about 20 minutes most evenings when they are young.  It’s good for bonding and attachment. 

The old theory is that if the animal relaxes enough to fall asleep then you have a good bond established.  This actually comes from falconry where they capture yearlings from the wild.  They man them down by tying them to the glove, sitting down with a bottle of whiskey, and relaxing until both man & bird fall asleep.  Then they feel that a bond has been formed and training can begin. 

We have always spent about a little bit of time every evening manning our puppies.  They might squirm and complain a bit, but they learn to chill out and relax until we let them go.  We never let them go until they settle down.  We were both a little more tentative with the kitties.  I didn’t want a freaking out clawing full out hysterical kitten on my hands!  So I approached manning a little more slowly and carefully than I would with a pup.  I’d hold for just a minute or so, then release.  While Trick likes to be petted, manning was a whole different story!  He wouldn’t settle for long before he wanted to get down and check things out.  While Treat likes petting less, he was actually more willing to lie on my chest and relax.  Not what I would have predicted at all. 

Last night they both finally fell asleep while we were manning them.  Treat slept on my chest for a long time.  Trick had a shorter nap, but still slept.  I guess they’ve been manned now.  I don’t know what we’ve gained, but I think we’ve made progress in our relationships with them.

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