Optimism doesn't come naturally to all dogs, or humans for that matter, but it is perhaps the most valuable gift we can give our dogs. Optimism, as in choosing to see novelty in the environment as something positive helps dogs cope with our complex and unnatural society. With Optimism dogs learn that often the best response is NO Response. Backfiring cars, kids on skateboards, other dogs, thunder, they can learn to look at all these things and more with a Positive and Optimistic spin.
Have you even seen a dog that seems to overact to everything? "He doesn't like change," his owners say, or "I can't do that. He has a set routine." The problem is that this thinking builds a pessimistic attitude. Dogs learn to see new things (novelty) as something to be worried about if not outright frightened of. And as we have already discussed, seeing things from worry or fear often leads to bad behavior choices.
Novelty is everywhere. And limitless. We can't possibly expose our dogs to everything that will enter their space for a lifetime. This is the trouble with traditional puppy socialization. How can you remember to expose your puppy to a man with an enormous hat and feather boa, riding a bike in the snow while singing at the top of his lungs? (this actually happened to me) Instead, we teach the concept of Optimism to our dogs regardless of age. It's never too late to learn to see life Optimistically. Dogs are great adapters and they can change even into old age.
All dogs are sensitive to change in their surroundings. Their senses make them superior observers of the world around them. They notice the wind and the scent is carries, the trees and birds perched in the branches, the ground and everything scattered across it. If we can transform them into Optimists, they accept pretty much anything that comes their way as something either positive or nothing to be worried about.
How do we do that? Well, we have a game for that.
Rebecca Porter has been fascinated by dogs for decades, but it took a frantic mixed breed to send her on a journey into innovative and real life solutions in dog training.