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