Dismiss to Capitalize on Engagement
Dismiss – Handler is Off Limits
Dismissal doesn’t mean the dog has to leave, it means the handler is off limits. when the dog realizes that the handler is often off limits then interaction with the handler becomes a valuable resource.
Dismissal is a powerful tool. A handler that is off limits quickly becomes a limited access resource. If the handler plays this well then the dog starts to shape the handler in order to gain access to Engagement with this limited access resource.
Flipping the script on Engagement, starting with Dismissal creates the opportunity to shape Attention and Reorientation from the environment. And you’re doing it without any responsibility. The dog would have to bite a child or run into the street to get your attention during Dismissal.
In addition to adding value to the handler and creating a shaping opportunity, Dismissal allows the handler to observe the dog and gain valuable intelligence on who the dog is when there’s no discrete cookie on the line.
Explore – Premack or Provide an Existential Experience
the Premack Principle is awesome. it works. but it’s often used as something of an applied science. like it is a method that should be performed to achieve a goal or an end result. instead , try to allow the dog to explore and create an existential experience.
On it’s face this sounds awful anthropomorphic. I’m not suggesting my dog is wondering why discs fly or what is the meaning of Sit. I’m talking about giving the dog the opportunity and space to exist, on their own, within their own skin.
Not chasing a cookie or rooting around to round up something to play with, but chilling out, investigating, exploring, and otherwise just being a dog.
This Existential Experience is missing for many high drive dogs. They just don’t know how to kick it. And for young puppies, this Existential Experience is critical to them being able to deal and cope with the realities of a big crazy world.
Recall – Reinforce and Repeat
while the dog is Exploring, you may notice times of confusion, boredom, or fear. this is a great time to Recall. in fact, if one of those things is not happening and you Recall, you are testing or proofing that critical skill.
The ability to observe the dog and notice things like confusion, boredom, or fear gives the handler great intelligence on who their dog is and what trips the dog’s trigger. Observing the dog during Dismissal means that you get to see the whole picture, without your ego and your desires getting in the way. You get an Existential Experience if you play this right. You get to explore reality with your dog as a Team.
While observing the exploration during dismissal, note the environmental cues that your dog responds to. Get a handle on the distance at which your dog is impacted by different stimulus. Identify likely triggers for fear, confusion, boredom.
Just drop a Recall on those moments, or just before those moments, and you’ve got a highly likely Recall. Mark the appropriate criteria within the Recall, pay the dog, do a thing or two – whoo hoo – and dismiss the dog for more exploration.