Purpose: This hands-on clinic will teach you, the owner of a dog suffering from “Doggy Attention Deficit Disorder,” how to solve your dog’s attention deficits.
Most problem dogs simply are paying attention to the wrong things at the wrong times because at any given time, most dogs devote 100% of their attention to the most arousing stimulus in the environment. That “arousing stimulus” is often not the owner, which can spell trouble for both the owner and dog.
Question: Is your answer “Yes, that’s my dog!” to any of the following 3 descriptions?—
1. My dog is a nearly perfect angel, who follows me around and behaves well when alone with me in our home. However, when my dog sees, smells, or hears something else that arouses or attracts him or her, or if my dog is scared by something, my dog acts as if he/she is saying “Bye bye!” to me, or even worse, “I have an owner? What owner? No way!”
2. My dog mostly ignores me and my attempts at commands everywhere. He/she lives his/her life independently of me at home as well as outside our home.
3. My dog is a performance dog who has trouble staying focused on his/her performance task when there are pesky distractions nearby.
Good attention habits are fundamental to a well-trained dog.
Improved attention can be taught to a dog by pursuing three separate, yet interlinked, training strategies:
1. First, we teach the dog to pay attention to the owner/teacher—the owner’s eyes, hands, body, and voice all are different aspects of the owner that can provide teaching information to the dog. The dog has to learn what to do with that information, how to respond. We also teach the owner how to pay attention to the dog and when to reinforce the dog.
2. Then, we teach the dog how to calmly focus on an object while the dog performs desirable behaviors-- to replace out-of-control arousal emotions and behaviors towards those objects. This involves “Split Attention Focus” training exercises, where the dog learns to calmly look at/listen to something else while still fully obedient to his/her owner, whom the dog might not be facing or near to, at that moment. The dog is taught to maintain desirable behaviors and desirable focus or shifts of focus for increasingly longer periods of time and for greater distances. We teach the owner how to pay attention and reinforce the dog to achieve these training goals.
3. Finally, we teach the dog how to ignore gradually increasing levels of distractions through a well-planned process of “dynamic desensitization training.” Dynamic desensitization training takes advantage of the brain’s naturally occurring process of memory reconsolidation. We teach the owner how to use memory reconsolidation and dynamic desensitization training to their dog’s advantage.
Carolyn Wilki will show you innovative ways of achieving better attention from your dog based on positive reinforcement training techniques, the latest neuroscience information, and fresh interpretations of herding training techniques which can be employed in home situations for pet dogs (These techniques work not just for herding breeds, but for all dogs!).
Besides teaching your dog how to pay attention to you and your instruction, this full-day clinic will lay a foundation for healing any dog’s unruly heeling behavior.
Note: There is also a half-day clinic Healing Heeling, given at a separate time, which will build on the concepts and training exercises presented at the Attention Clinic.