Dismissal for the High Drive Dog

Lesson Progress:

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 greener or supply and demand.

The more the environment is restricted and attention is required, the harder it becomes to hold a dog’s attention. There’s so much potential opportunity that is being missed out on and you are so… required.

Dismissal flips that and makes the handler the limited access resource and requires 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 interaction with the handler, that shiny object, grass is greener idea often disappears.

Skillful use of dismissal can create a dog that wants nothing else but to work with her handler. Along with attention, dismissal is one of the most powerful concepts in dog training.

Dismissal While Training

Dismissal is a great tool for breaking up training sessions. Talking to an instructor, moving equipment or just hanging out for a few, around the field – these are all great times to use dismissal.

Dismiss the dog and she will be free to do what she wants and the handler will be free from handling her. There is a clear understanding that there is no work to be had for the moment. It makes breaks in training bearable and manageable.

Dismissal can be used when dogs are successful to resolve a session on a positive note. It can also be used to break a training session in order to start over with reduced criteria or to shift gears and work on something else.

DOC – Dismiss – Observe – Capture

One of the great things about dismissal is that it leverages positive training and shaping skills towards managing the environment and a dog’s drive. Dismissal can be used to create, reinforce, and proof desired behaviors and can be used to eliminate or manage unwanted behaviors. Shape and freeshape behavior and manage the environment, drive, and arousal using dismissal.

Dismiss the dog and watch her. Observe her behavior. See what she does when she’s on her own and you are not hounding her. Most handlers are surprised to realize that they have never just observed their dog interact in an environment.

After observing for a while capture and shape desirable behaviors like reorienting towards the handler or disengaging from squirrels on the sideline.

For dogs that have trouble staying engaged or have trouble reengaging after a distraction, this DOC concept is a great fix. Just dismiss the dog and give her responsibility for hooking up with you.

When she hooks up with you or does something desirable, make it worth her while for a few moments. Dismiss her while she still wants more and repeat.

DOC teaches a dog that the handler is a limited access resource and that she has to work for access to the handler and the opportunity to work. DOC makes interaction with the handler a cookie.

The Sausage Factory Rule:
You can’t dismiss your dog into a sausage factory. Only send the dog out into an environment that you, as a handler can compete with.
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