Loose Potatoes (Sometimes Dog Training Needs a Plan B)
When people make the big leap to training their dogs in a reinforcement based program such as the one we have here in Do-Land, they sometimes fall into what we refer to as “the gap”. The gap is a place of paralysis. It is the time chasm where you see your dog doing something you know he shouldn’t be doing … the devil on your shoulder reminds you of what worked to stop it in your old system … but there isn’t a clear enough message coming through from Do-Land telling you what other options are available for you. So you freeze and do nothing. Knowing what you can DO is going to help you with the gap, so have a Plan ‘B’!
We’ve Got a Loose Potato!
A couple of weeks ago, we were filming when Tater gave a great demo of a situation where many people find themselves in “the gap”. That short video is below.
Now, Tater LOVES his Crate Games and has been rockin’ his “Wait, Watch, Work” training. He has received a great deal of reinforcement for waiting his turn, but as you can see in the video, there was a tunnel temptation that he could not resist. I’m sharing the video so you can see what I DO when things don’t go as planned.
All I did was move Tater back into his open crate. The Plan ‘B’ here is as easy as that! Along with having a lot of reinforcement history for waiting turns Tater has also had a lot of value built in the “Collar Grab Game” which is one of our foundation games, so I can take his collar to reset. Moving him back to where he was waiting gave him another chance to earn reinforcement for his job of waiting while stopping the reinforcement of being a ‘loose potato’.
If you find you are constantly needing to reset your dog, look at your foundations and layers of training to make sure your dog has a history of reinforcement for what it is you want him to DO, and if you are being fair with the level of difficulty you are presenting to him. Grow your dog’s capability with layered learning and strategic challenges.
You might be wondering what I was waiting for to release Swagger to take the tunnel at the start of the video… I was waiting for him to ‘focus forward’ on the ‘work’. Because my dogs are trained and live in “Do-Land” they have immense value for me. This attention from our dogs is a by-product of effective, inspired training. When you get it right your dog will never want to take his eyes off of you and you will have to create a new response; that of inspired focus forward towards something else! For dog agility, and other sports, we want our dogs to be focused on what they are doing, rather than looking at us.
Have you ever found yourself in the gap of not knowing what to do, so you do nothing? Or have you previously been in the gap, but can now do something that is in alignment with the trainer and person you want to be? Let me know in the comments!
Today I am grateful for everyone who is looking at their training from the perspective of “DO” and inspiring focus from their dogs.