Teach your dog the What’s This?! game

This is a game from our Adventure Class. On this course we spend much time observing and learning from our dogs’ preferences, their choices.

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Instead of thinking that so-called distractions are enemies to training, we become participants in our dogs’ curiosity and exploration. Viewing their world through their lens and their experiences.

Learn about the things that interest your dog, that engage their nose, that they enthusiastically orient toward and approach. I know Decker will be interested in thicker, longer clumps of grass, for example, as that’s likely where other dogs have marked. Drawing his attention to these provides sniffs, social outlets, and over-marking opportunities.

When you spot things, draw your dog’s attention to them by excitedly cueing “What’s this?!” and indicating the area of interest.

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Not only is this fun and relationship building for you both, but also a simple way to redirect your dog’s attention from goings-on that might be stressful. Turning them away and engaging in an enjoyable activity can help to manage their behaviour, and help prevent and recover from stressful interactions.

Lots of practice when there’s nothing going on, and just for fun, helps to change your mindset, in participating with your dog. And shows your dog that you won’t be nagging them to move on or ‘pay attention’, and instead that you’re their team-mate and partner in exploring your world together.

No one tool ‘works’ for every context, and sometimes it’s not possible or safe to use environmental redirection. But when it is, try the What’s This?! game, even if just for fun