Engagement Starts with Dismissal

Engagement starts with Dismissal. The End. You cannot engage without first being disengaged.

Dismissal – To Engage You Must First Be Disengaged

the starting point for Engagement is Disengagement. you can’t turn it on without it first being off. this piece of the Engagement puzzle is critical and often overlooked. use Dismissal to create Engagement opportunities.

Regardless of whether your dog’s drive is too high, too low, or just right, in order to work Engagement (engage harder, engage softer, stay engaged) you need to start from a state of Disengagement or you need to work until you cue a state of Disengagement. The common thread for Dog | Handler | Team will be the dog working until getting turned Off and wanting to work more after they are Dismissed.

This is a natural experience for the handler of a high drive dog. Their dogs never want to quit. But here we can use Dismissal to create a Groundhog’s Day situation of some kind of lame play between Dismissals. Soft work practices can then be shaped and captured leading in to more ho hum work. We can take a dog down a few notches quite easily with skillful use of Dismissal.

Attention – Capture and Shape Attention or Focus

how can you capture Attention if your dog is already Engaged? do you say something? do something? that is the dog’s job. the dog gives Attention to activate the handler. use Dismissal to set up the capturing of Attention.

This is a common problem for positive dog trainers, present company included. My dogs are ALWAYS looking at me. This makes it hard to capture Attention. I have to work to find moments where it happens naturally. I use lots of Dismissal for this.

Most of the time, personally, I am looking for “Soft Work” – lazy, unintentional Attention… A lazy decision to go hit the Spot… Ambient Attention while lying on the Pedestal. So I choose those desirable expressions of behavior as my criteria and shape my dog’s Engagement with them.

I could just as easily capture a sharp piece of Eye Contact or a whiplash check in from here if I want some hot, exciting work or want to reinforce higher intensity play.

Because of the Dismissal I can legitimately and honestly shape the behaviors and the types of behaviors I want my dog to perform to create Engagement. The dog should believe that the marked behaviors performed creates engagement.

Engagement – Limited Engagement This is IT!

once handlers get their dogs working we often work them into the dirt or work them until failure. it happens because we finally get it working and we want to actually work it. once you get it, the work is done. get on, get hot, get off and go do dog stuff.

Get On, Get Hot, Get Off – Go Do Dog Stuff. If this happens all the time then the dog learns that the game is always exciting and it’s always going to end too soon. Playing becomes a very limited access resource. The dog feels lucky to be able to do it and will work harder in order to get a chance to make it happen.

And hopefully you can see where this is going. By getting the dog excited and turning them off while they are high, the dog remembers wanting to play more. Once that becomes a fact for the dog, then when we run longer they are getting one for free. They’re scoring. THIS IS AMAZING!!!

For the high drive dog handlers, get on, get ho hum, get off… and repeat. Notice that is all lower case text. If I could shrink it and make it looks slower and more lame, I’d do it for dramatic effect.

One of the key ideas with Dismissal for High Drive Dogs is that you are dismissing to get many reps of easy work. Or that you will be returning to work and everything is OK, just chill… I mean the game is kind of lame anyway…

Get on | Get Hot | Get Off