Just another day at the office! This weekend we pushed owners to maintain control over their dogs off leash while distracted by me…creepy clown guy. They had to learn and adapt to a new environment quickly while taking pressure from a decoy. This isn’t a rehearsed series of obedience commands. Neither the dogs nor the owners had any idea what they were walking into or who would be in there. They actually had no idea whether or not they would have to use their dogs in the scenario. All they were told was that they had to go into the store with their dog off leash and maintain control over them while renting a movie and then purchase something at the counter…that was it.
This scenario was about control on the owner’s part and raising the dogs thresholds for what life possibly could throw at them. Most likely you won’t meet a creepy clown guy pushing a walker in a convenience store, but that’s sort of the point. This kind of training teaches the dog what threats are real and what aren’t. Just being a creepy clown guy isn’t an invitation to go and bite. An actual act of aggression is!!
This kind of scenario work also builds a much stronger relationship between the owner and dog because they learn to trust each other. I speak to the dynamics of owning genetically high drive, confident dogs all the time…a confident, high drive dog (especially one protection trained) cannot be the point man in a situation like this, they need to learn and take direction from a confident leader.
How do we get confident leaders? Running scenarios where both the owner and dog gain valuable skills in dealing with, and then working together to get out of a bad situation.
Remember, what I am showing you here is a training exercise to continue building the skills needed to be in the real world. This isn’t a rehearsed field trial that has been polished through months or years of practice. This unfolded right before their eyes and they had to adapt.
The emphasis shouldn’t be put on being able to walk a rehearsed script. The emphasis should be put on creating a team that is built on trust and mutual respect. The only way to create this kind of team dynamic is to pay attention to the process and make that a priority in the training regardless of if it’s a pet or a personal protection dog.
My goal is to give the dog and owner a skill set which they can draw from. The more tools in the tool bag I can provide, the better prepared the dog and owner will be to deal with and enjoy the world together.