Taking Turns

I adore using mats or dog beds or other place type spaces to teach and then remind dogs about taking turns.

Tom & Zora both lying on a white and checked donut style dog bed

Tom and Zora have both been getting rather nudgy, pushy and whiny lately around the concepts of sharing my and other people’s attention so I realized I needed to be much clearer and consistent with our taking of turns during training as I’ve slacked a lot on the criteria for that.  I’ve been really lax on where the non-working dog is to be in space.

We’ve now done 2 sessions where I went back to clear and consistent criteria that the working dog was active with me and the non-working dog was quietly lying on the dog bed.  Then they swap on cue.  And already I’m seeing a positive difference.  Calmer, quieter, more focused work from both of the dogs.

The non-working on the bed dog is remembering to stay on the bed until I give their name and release cue.  Even when the working dog and I are doing some rather active, movement based and enticing things.  The working dog is getting my undivided attention and we’re making some great progress on things.

An interesting observation is each dog has asked to be the on the bed non-working dog at times when they want a break from the active more precision based training we’ve been doing.  I respect that and we do a dog swap when ever either asks for that.

Tom & Zora both lying on the large tan rectangle dog bed

In the past when I’ve been consistent about non-working dog is on the mat during training sessions, I see really nice fall over to other areas of life, such as when people are at the door, leave it exercises and meet and greets in general.  As those too have deteriorated in ways I’m less than thrilled with lately, I’m including practice and clearer consistent criteria on our greeting manners using their ‘on the bed’ behavior too.

0 thoughts on “Taking Turns

    1. Great question! Periodically during the working dog’s time, I give a food treat to the non-working dog for staying on their bed. Most of those the working dog ignores (as they get a higher rate of reinforcement during the active training we’re doing), but sometimes I’m finding the working dog hops onto the bed and into a down next to the non-working dog, and then when I release the non-working dog from the bed the one who offered the on the bed wants to stay there so we swap.

        1. Some of my other cues for these 2 are: Tom will get sharky with the treats, especially when we’re doing something that has made him physically tired. Like I’ve been doing a lot of sit, stand, down position changes with him to help improve his core strength as well as asking him to increase the length of time he can hold a stand position (again working on his core strength). As those get more fatiguing for him he will get sharky so we take a break. Zora she will delay ever so briefly when I say “Ready to rock?” (which is my general we’re going to work together please give me your undivided attention phrase) if I get a delayed response to that, then we stop and take a break. I have a couple of other start ‘tell me you’re ready’ behaviors depending on context and if she delays or doesn’t offer those then we take a break (ex: on our retrieve work, she sits front to tell me she’s ready to begin, if she doesn’t do that despite me having the retrieve object in my hand, we stop and take a break)

  1. Getting sharky with the treats, haha yes, any time Brèagha gets over excited she starts taking her rewards in a rude, snappy manner and I have to remind her that’s not how it’s done. But the funny thing is, she just in general does everything quicker. Like, if deer just ran across the trail ahead of us and she’s all excited about that, if I ask her to heel, she’ll practically throw herself into position and snap up her reward. I’m just like, woah, chill! It’s like the opposite of slow motion. 😄

    1. Yup common response to heightened or over arousal both the sharky on the treats and the throwing themselves into positions. it’s like the excitement and desire to move has to go somewhere so instead of giving into the impulse to chase the deer the moving into heel (or other position) becomes the way to displace the what would be otherwise forward chase movement, and if the heel (or other behavior) is well conditioned and the dog really knows they will be right when doing it the emphasis often is even more dramatic. “I really wanted to chase that deer but I know if I heel that will help me relieve this stress and arousal so gosh darn it i’m going to heel like I’ve never heeled before!” lol

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