Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

An alternative approach to distractions

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by O2.0, Mar 18, 2021.


  1. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    8,635
    Likes Received:
    26,863
    I got this video by accident today so I figured I'd share. It's another way to approach distractions, who knows, it may help someone :)

    The usual advice when the dog finds the environment more interesting than you is to manage the environment, and make yourself more interesting. Which is good advice, but very often feels like a losing battle.

    There's another option, and that's join in :D

    We were working on putting tree climbing on cue (my dog is a weirdo, what can I say). She's engaged, working with me and then *poof* distraction happens.
    At this point I can "correct" her checking out by disengaging and removing the opportunity to work with me (which she finds rewarding).
    I can tell her "no" and go get her, wait for her to get back in work mode and carry on.
    I can call her back and give her an easier task to feel successful.
    All are perfectly appropriate and I've employed similar tactics countless times myself.

    Or, I can engage with her in what she is doing.

    This last option seems counterintuitive, but as you can see, it works. It doesn't take long at all and she comes right back to me, ready to work some more.

    This tactic works for several reasons, the biggest one is that it maintains your connection with the dog so that activity that initially didn't involve you, now does. With repetition, instead of a distraction becoming an event that disconnects you from your dog, it's simply another part of a whole larger conversation where you and the dog remain connected.
    I also like that for dogs like Penny who really does enjoy working, it eliminates that conflict between her desire to work with me and her desire to check things out. Too much feeling conflicted about working with me in distracting environments can compound and lessen her joy in working, something I obviously really want to avoid. So that's also a huge plus for me.

    Disclaimer, this has to be done in a safe way. I trust Penny's recall and desire to stay with me, and even if she were to take off, it's a known, familiar environment with minimal risk of me losing her or her running off in to danger.
    If I didn't trust her recall, this would all be done on a long line, or in a secured area.

    Oh, one last thing. Sniffing is sometimes a conflict avoidance tactic with dogs. When they're feeling pulled in too many directions, they sometimes 're-set' with a "oh what's this smell over here" to give themselves a moment. I don't think that's what Penny is doing here, she genuinely did catch a scent, and she wasn't particularly confused by the task. But even if she were trying to change the subject because things got too much, this is even more so a good approach as it can build her confidence and our relationship.

     
  2. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Messages:
    9,679
    Likes Received:
    22,896
    Oh bless her, she is just adorable.
    She definitely caught a scent there...one second looking at you and then "Ohhh what's that!"
     
    LinznMilly and O2.0 like this.
  3. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Messages:
    15,054
    Likes Received:
    10,047
    She's so lovely!! Love seeing how she's progressing :)

    I have been using the environment with my training/playing/bonding with Kato. He is very aware of where we are; the smells, sights, sounds, etc in a way that Archer never was. In fact I don't think Archer noticed the environment for the first two years of his life as he was so focussed on me .... Kato is very different.

    With Kato I tried to be more 'interesting' & he just looked at me like I was a tw@t! So I've stopped trying so hard & instead we investigate things together, he checks with me & we dig up mole hills, he gets to sniff & I ask him what he's found, we will play with river mussels we find, play with reeds, stop to look at the swans & ducks on the river .... he then checks with me to make sure I've seen so gets a "good boy" & food reward.

    We climb fallen trees & splash in puddles (he loves this) & I've found this approach works much better than trying to fight against his curiosity
     
    #3 Cleo38, Mar 18, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021
    LinznMilly and O2.0 like this.
  4. cava14 una

    cava14 una Anne two black and white boys and a Nortie Tortie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,575
    Likes Received:
    1,867
    I have a friend whose dogs are forever climbing things. She actually started a FB page for people to post pics of their dogs in thing:Cat

    Penny is so gorgeous:)
     
    LinznMilly and O2.0 like this.
  5. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    8,635
    Likes Received:
    26,863
    LOL at the image of you trying to be more interesting to Kato and his reaction :Hilarious
    It goes against a lot of the advice out there to control the environment and the dog's reinforcers, but I'm leaning more and more to the "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" side of things, particularly early on in building that relationship.
    Penny is young, we're only 6 months in. There's no rush for her to be able to do anything but connect with me. If we can get that in all contexts, the rest will fall in to place :)
    That's the idea at least :D
     
    LinznMilly and Cleo38 like this.
  6. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Messages:
    15,054
    Likes Received:
    10,047
    Yes, that's exactly how I feel with Kato. I think if I started forcing him to do anything then it wouldn't bode well at all. I think he's going to be a very strong, independent dog (Archer is very handler orientated) & so I need to work with him & for me this seemed to be the obvious solution.

    He is now actually alot more engaged with me when out as he knows that we have fun & I think because of that his recall is spot on (atm!) as I try to work on the premack principle as we've discussed before.

    We do have so much fun & I am now as much a part of the environment as I show him ways in which we can play together & enjoy our time out.

    And yes, the look he gave me was hilarious ... he seems to have quite the knack for it :D
     
    LinznMilly and O2.0 like this.
  7. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    8,635
    Likes Received:
    26,863
    I've found exactly the same with Penny, I still haven't given her a formal recall cue, but - so far - just saying her name is all I've needed.

    Did you ever get the Simone Muller book? It was your link that led me to it! :D
     
  8. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Messages:
    15,054
    Likes Received:
    10,047
    No as I have put myself on a book ban until I have read a few of my recent purchases. It's on my Amazon wish list so I won't forget
     
    O2.0 likes this.
  9. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    8,635
    Likes Received:
    26,863
    :Hilarious:Hilarious:Hilarious
     
  10. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    Messages:
    13,806
    Likes Received:
    6,366
     
  11. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    Messages:
    13,806
    Likes Received:
    6,366
    That's what I did with Holly all those years ago now when she wouldn't engage with me at all and would rather sniff the chairs in the barn or the trees in the paddock. Displacement behaviour bless her. I only did it in private because joining her in sniffing trees or chairs might have been mis-construed by the public at large....LOL
     
    LinznMilly, Cleo38 and O2.0 like this.
  12. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    8,635
    Likes Received:
    26,863
    Oh that made me laugh! The things we do for our dogs! :Hilarious:Hilarious
     
    Twiggy likes this.
  13. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    Messages:
    13,806
    Likes Received:
    6,366
    But that's what's so great about dogs and dog training; all the laughs and funny bits along the way. I could write a book.........
     
    O2.0 likes this.
  14. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    8,635
    Likes Received:
    26,863
    Oh you absolutely should write a book!!
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice