If you have trouble getting your dog’s attention, you are already behind the 8-ball when it comes to dog training.
What if I told you it was possible to have your dog stop and look into your eyes any time they see something they like or want? How about if I show you? Click on the video you’ll see…
Pawsitive Vybe is a weekly 1/2 hour dog training & lifestyle webseries on YouTube that is seeking wider distribution and production support. It is self produced by Ron Watson & Pawsitive Vybe.
attention is unsolicited or offered eye contact. all cooperative behaviors between dog and handler start with Attention.
0:43 – Attention for Toys with Hops
2:22 – Fridge Retrieve with Parkour
3:16 – Show Introduction & Backer Shoutout
5:55 – Shaping & Capturing Attention with Flo
9:51 – Flowing Mo Moves with Hops
10:56 – 3 Flavors of Attention
13:26 – Go Do Dog Stuff – Dismissal
14:44 – Dismiss to Warmup with Kiva
16:28 – NH Disc Dog Camp Vignette
18:01 – 1 Footed Foot Stall with Hops
20:07 – Notecards with Kiva
22:35 – 1 Footed Footstall Reloaded
24:31 – Notecards & Big Air with Kiva
26:00 – Vault Quickie
26:28 – Performance is Not Understanding
28:59 – Refocusing with Attention with Lexi
Responsibility & Opportunity
In the pet world Attention is usually asked for by the handler by calling the dog’s name, at which point the handler then asks the dog to perform another behavior. It’s not hard to see that this Attention behavior is likely to become quite weak, as asking for work, especially work that is challenging, is not a very powerful reinforcer.
What winds up happening is that the handler has to cajole (or coerce) the dog into hooking up with her, putting the handler behind that 8-ball before work has even started. This little stumbling block can easily become a major pitfall as the handler has to work harder and harder to get, and hold the dog’s attention.
If we shift the responsibility for hooking up as a team from the handler to the dog. Then it is the dog that has to cajole the handler for the opportunity to work. Your dog will start to work in order to get the opportunity to work with you. How cool is that? 8-ball, corner pocket…
Mechanics, Metaphor & Methodology
The mechanics for teaching Attention are rather simple, and are clearly demonstrated throughout the show.
The handler presents a cookie (or a toy) and waits for the dog to offer eye contact. When the eye contact happens, a positive marker is given to isolate that behavior, that moment in time and bridge that behavior with the eating of the cookie. A clicker or a verbal,”Yes!” are traditional positive markers. The dog learns rather quickly that the fast path to the cookie runs through the handler’s eyes.
It is important for the handler to understand that the cookie presentation is more of a signal than it is a lure or bait. This is kind of a hard concept for some people to grasp. What we are trying to accomplish at this point in time is to get the dog to believe that the path to anything they want starts with looking at the handler, and you can’t deliver that understanding if you refuse to present a cookie or you are looking at the cookie as a trap or distraction.
Eating the cookie is the goal and the way to achieve that goal is to release the cookie and give eye contact. Essentially the dog will be asking permission to go after what they want.
Generalize, Generalize, Generalize
Once we have the dog offering eye contact at the presentation of the cookie we can switch cookies. Toys, food bowl, access to outdoors, taking the leash off, all of these things are potential cookies.
The more your dog uses the Attention behavior to create positive opportunities, the more every opportunity that presents itself will trigger the need to offer attention:
When all you have is
a hammer Attention, every situation looks like a nail Eye Contact.
Dismissal = Go Do Dog Stuff!
Dismissal is kind of the opposite of Attention. It means that the handler is unavailable or off limits, and is an important concept for making the handler an opportunity – that’s right, you can be a cookie too!
Traditional pet training says that the handler must keep the dog’s attention at all times. This means that the handler is a resource that is never restricted and the environment is always limited access. This quickly becomes the grass is always greener, and it becomes harder and harder to hold your dog’s attention when there’s so much potential opportunity that is being missed out on.
Dismissal flips that and makes the handler a limited access resource and gives frequent, unfettered access to the environment. “You think the grass is greener over there? Go do dog stuff.” Once the dog realizes that the environment is kind of lame without the interaction with the handler, that shiny object, grass is greener idea that we fight against so often disappears.
Skillful use of Dismissal can create a dog that wants nothing else but to work with the handler. Along with Attention, Dismissal is one of the most powerful concepts in dog training.
One thing about dismissal: You can’t dismiss your dog into a sausage factory. So be sure you are sending the dog out into an environment that you, as a handler can compete with.
Discussion in Comments Below
I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions on the show, Attention and Dismissal in the comments below. Don’t be shy, the only stupid questions are the ones not asked.