Distractions play a big role in dog training. Identifying and dealing with them is the epic quest of the dog and dog sport trainer. In the case of these videos, the distraction is an agility jump that is placed in play and promises to feature prominently in the game (why else would it be there, right?). This distraction impacts Epic in one way and Loot in another.
Watch both videos of the Figure 8 Cross Form to see the impact of the distraction in two very different high drive dogs.
Epic Easy Stuff
Epic is normally quite easy to handle in this form, but the draw of the agility jump put him a bit on edge. You can see him eyeballing it and being gravitationally compelled towards it throughout our session.
I recognized it fairly quickly, but that’s the trouble with working on camera for production purposes – it changes everything – The Show Must Go On. So I worked through it, as I may have without the cameras present largely because Eppie is pretty advanced in the skill and it was interesting to see him work through it.
If I were working Obi or a dog without competence or understanding of the skill, I definitely would have stopped the moment I realized and pulled the distraction. Watching Eppie without the distraction, you can see that the performance certainly is different.
Loot Hard Stuff
Loot is an interesting dog. I don’t call him a ballistic collie for nothing. He’s so on fire that he can’t function much of the time. He will do all the things all at once and all out. If you do it right now then Next is right now!
The agility jump on the field gave Loot pause. Actual pause, and that is really saying something.
In an earlier video on this, Take 1, Loot was on autopilot. Without the gravitational and mental pull to the agility jump, he was able to skip past the paying attention phase and do it all, all at once. His ability to game and pattern train without the agility jump enabled him to anticipate the future skipping from Right Here, Right Now to Right Now is Next.
The distraction forced Loot to work with me. He had to watch what I was doing and play along because that jump might get tossed into the mix. So he paid attention in order to prepare for the jump opportunity.
Same Distraction Two Distinct Affects & Effects
Same jump, same distraction “I want to do the thing!” Two completely different affects: Loot focused on the handler as a result of the distraction – to get access to the distraction, I might add… and Epic lost connection with the handler while trying to guess when we were going to do the thing – he worked both of us ineffectively.
There were two different effects too. Loot played thoughtfully and followed me. Epic played twitchy and erratically.
Identify the distraction and separate the affects and effects. What does it do to the dog, what does it do to the game? This is a key aspect of working through distractions and it can be explored with disc dog forms such as the Figure 8 Cross.
Dealing with it in the moment, and leveraging it to your advantage is the difference between taking distractions in stride while strengthening behavior and getting blindsided and blown up by distractions.