Leverage the Near Miss

All dogs miss bites sometimes and how you handle the miss is important. First off, a near miss is every bit as, and perhaps more reinforcing than a regular old bite. Everyone remembers the one that got away. Remember that crush you had that didn’t pan out? Of course you do!

As with most dog training, how the near miss is handled is a big part of how the dog perceives it in terms of opportunity. Nothing devalues a near miss quite as much as giving it away for a weak effort or “good” try.

”Oh, was that too hard? Well you tried. Here, why don’t you take it so we don’t hurt your feelings.”

You might laugh, but that is the first thing that most handlers do when their dog misses it. They push it back at the dog’s face and totally kill the value of the near miss as a potential reinforcer.

If your dog misses the target for lack of effort, happenstance, or overzealous prey drive, take that !@#$ away! Remove it, sharply and quickly, perhaps with a silly and energetic, “What happened?” or “Whoa!”

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