Everyone that reads this thing regularly, knows I do a lot of training through game play.
And, not in the surface “Create a reward event to make them work” sort if way.
But, in a profound way. Almost a spiritually fulfilling way. It impacts so many different levels.
Gives psychological fulfillment, as the activities let them express their natural drives.
And we’ve always said that it builds relationships. Builds the language we will use. Builds fluency in body language for both dog and handler. All that good stuff. I’ve always thought there was carry over into just living with your dog. Past just the “tired dog is a good dog” line.
Well, now we have a bit of proof!
In this study, they talk about how dogs develop, and LOSE, trust!
Once you read that, you will have a greater understanding of how your “Game” can effect your day to day relationship. When I coach people in play, I constantly use the common phrase “breaking trust” to tell them why not to do certain things. And, on the surface….. It could be about just the game. Like… Giving fair presentations of the toy so they can get it without clipping you. Like moving it enough that they have to “try” but not so much they feel like they “can’t”. Tugging hard enough that they are in the “fight”, and not “overwhelmed……. All that seems to be only Game related.
But this study shows that dogs can learn from how you play and do trivial activities what kind of trust you deserve.
Seems like the Clarity the dogs learn from your Game will effect them in all aspects of your relationship.
A lot of times when I work with a dog, I start with play. And I’ve always felt it wasn’t just “play”. But us really learning one another. Build trust and language, before trying to navigate sticky situations.
Kind of cool when science tells you you’re on the right train of thought!
Go play with your dog!
A person that I did a consult with, had this made for me. It was done by Brandon Steen. Amazing.
What do I do in a Blizzard?
Transition Jax to Spring Pole!
Lot of people tug. Not that many people use Spring Poles.
The way old school dogmen used them didn’t involve control. Let them at it….. Pry them off. All conditioning and gameness. No control.
But, I think they can be used as an obedience reward. Just like tug. Giving access to this type of activity to folks that can’t get in there and play The Game themselves. Plus it takes HUGE impulse control.
Jaxxy followed my typical process:
Tug. Ball On A String. Flirt Pole. Decoy Tug. Then Spring Pole.
Each progression requires more responsibility and control under higher and higher arousal, so there’s usually a little wobble in self control as they master that test.
The transition to the Spring Pole follows the same ramp up in responsibility.
The toy is kept low so the outs are easier, and I am fairly close, so it doesn’t challenge my area of influence too much.
As he gets cleaner & more crisp, I will raise the toy up, and myself away.
Eventually, He’ll be swinging like the old school pics.
But…. With solid obedience!
No collars. No food.
Only Social Drive and self control overriding Prey Drive.
Here’s Jaxxy’s first session.
And Here’s a follow up 2 days later. It’s his 3rd session:
This video has two purposes. Well, 3.
One is celebrating my little idiot. God dammit I love that dog.
Two, is showing progress to anyone following his little story.
And, last, but not least….. Showing training doesn’t have to feel like this piece of shit chore. There was only about a third more of these activities that weren’t on film. This really is indicative of the amount of time I “worked” him.
Embed the training throughout the day. Train through game play.
Make it fun for YOU. And then you may do it.
Anyway….. Here’s Jaxxy doing some work. Enjoy:
You walk up to the elevator.
Push the button…… Wait.
Push the button…… Wait.
Push the button…… Wait.
“One more fucking time, and I’m taking the stairs” you say.
Push the button…… PUSH THAT STUPID PIECE OF SHIT BUTTON 55 GOD DAMN TIMES!!!!!!
Quit, and take the stairs.
That’s the extinction burst.
It’s the burst or “trying” that happens just before the quit.
OK. So what’s this got to do with dogs.
When people are training, I watch an epic “Race To The Extinction Burst” play out.
Here’s the scene. They are teaching their dog to stay. The dog breaks once every 3 minutes. The person calmly replaces them. The dog starts to have his extinction burst AND STARTS BREAKING EVERY 5 SECONDS. The people mistake it for them being “dominant”, or “falling apart”. They get exasperated. And start sounding that way when they replace them. Goes from a real easy “no”, to “UUUGHH God Dammit…. NOOOO”.
Dog thinks…… “Hmmmm……. I think Mom/Dad’s about to quit”
And, they’re right. Mom/Dad quits.
And, they just taught their dog to really be persistent if they want a human to give up.
Son of a bitch.
I Think dogs still watch body language. And intention. So, they subconsciously understand what they’re seeing. They can tell you’re breaking.
But, even if you believe that dogs are just classical conditioning machines, you have to see that your frustration at their extinction burst preceded your quitting. That teaches them what your frustration means. THE QUIT IS COMING!
Understand that when your dog is going through that, you just have to hold on. If you don’t show your quitting “tell”, they will eventually give up and “take the stairs”.
If you do that consistently in the beginning, the dog will have the clarity of knowing you don’t quit! And the whole game of “obedience chicken” will cease. Remember, It’s not the “structure” dogs need. It’s the Clarity.
This concept of consistency, and clarity in training, will make HUGE headway to that end.
Now, get your poker face on and show your dog you don’t quit!
Walking 2 of our dogs through the woods, and in the middle of a good conversation (aka not paying attention to the pups) we hear screaming and sounds of dog blowing up from around the corner on the trail. Yeah….. The same trail that Jax had just run down.
I have the dogs on remote collars for recall, but…. no matter what some people say, I’m not using them to break aggression! But that’s a rant for another time. Anyway…..
I go sprinting around the corner towards the sound of what I’m sure is gonna be the event that gets Jax put down. As I round the bend, I see a big ol Pit Bull. But he’s not blowing up. There’s still someone screaming. I have the split second fear that Jax is mauling this person. I want to puke.
I keep running, and that’s when I see Jax come back to this Pit at the end of the trail and they start……..
Playing. Nicely. Appropriately.
For another split second, I couldn’t process why this woman was still screaming. Or why there was still a dog blowing up. I get to the end of the trail. And there’s this woman with another dog on a leash, who’s just blowing up at Jax. And the woman is screaming at her own dog!
And, here’s the funny part. She starts apologizing to me!
I asked if she was ok, and she kept saying, “you’re dog is no problem. I’m so sorry. It’s my fault” etc….
I hooked Jax up and we left. His new buddy tried to come with us, but eventually went back to the screaming lady.
I literally cried a little.
My little man has come so far.
There may be something to this dog training shit.