This Vlog post is a particularly important one if you live with a dog. If you are struggling with a behaviour that you’d like to change, then you will want to know about your dog’s state, and how that state affects the behaviour you want to change. Even if you don’t have a challenge, it’s important to know as your dog’s state is critical no matter what you and your dog do together.

The 8 stages of the circle of fun I share in the video below explain what your dog’s state could be at any time, and the best state for your dog to be in to learn. Think back to school… did you have subjects you loved and subjects you liked the least?  Chances are the subjects you loved are the ones you had the most fun learning.  It’s the same for our dogs.

I created the Fun-O-Meter you will see in the video for a chat in our Free Dog Training Workshops Facebook Group. Let me know in the comments what you think and how it affects your dog.


To recap what we covered in the video chat, the 8 stages on the Fun-O-Meter are…

  • Afraid: When a dog is fearful he can’t learn. The same is true for us.
  • Anxious: When our dogs are anxious they are not comfortable, and they can quickly move to being afraid.
  • No Fun: If something in life is “just no fun” for your dog, he is not in the optimal state to learn or engage with you or be comfortable in his own skin. A dog can shift from “no fun” into being anxious and also destructive. “No fun” can also move up to the next stage of being comfortable.
  • Comfortable: When your dog is comfortable he is “chill”. He can be left alone, he is not going to be anxious as he is relaxed, and he has enrichment in his life. He can move into being interested in learning from this state.
  • Interested: In this state, your dog is interested in what is happening and can quickly move to being excited to engage and learn.
  • Excited: When your dog is excited he wants to learn. It’s easy to learn when you are actively engaged. In this state, your dog is working with you and having fun.
  • Wired: This is a step beyond excited, your dog is heading to the edge and can move to red lining quickly.
  • Red Lining: If your dog is red lining he has tripped over the edge. He can no longer hear you, he can no longer notice things that are around him. He can not learn.

In day to day life we want our dogs to be comfortable and readily move on to interested and excited when we are engaging with them and training… if you do dog sports you will likely be looking to your dog being wired without going over the edge to red line. We want to minimise the fear, anxiety and no fun zone. In daily life, we want to aim for our dogs being in the comfortable state.

Always be aware of your dog’s state to help your dog learn, have fun, and be comfortable in his own skin. Remember, if you own a dog, you are a dog trainer, and being aware of the eight states is going to make you a good trainer for your dog and help the both of you in your life together. By using choice, reinforcement and games in your training, you can take a dog from a state of being anxious or having no fun to being comfortable and excited when you want very, very fast. You can learn more about choice in dog training here on my blog.

Everybody who owns a dog will benefit by knowing the circle of fun, what state their dog is in, and how it’s impacting the life they have in the home and in training, so if you have friends with dogs share this Vlog post with them.

Today I am grateful for everyone who wants their dog to be comfortable in his own skin and excited to learn.