You might be thinking that Concept Training will require lots of tools, but you might be pleased to know that there is very little needed that isn't already in your home. And in fact, you will no longer need one thing you probably use every day.
Here's your shopping list:
1. Your Dog's normal food
3. Collar or Halter
4. 2 Dog Toys (use what you have)
5. An open mind
That's it. This is all you need to get started. Later, you might want to use a crate or puppy pen, but all you really need is a place in your home where your dog can chill out and relax.
Some games use items that pass through your home like empty water bottles and soup ladles. We believe in creativity over purchases.
So what's the item that you use every day, but will no longer be needed? The Food Bowl.
Every day you pour tons of value into that bowl when you could be pouring that same value into your relationship with your dog. I can show you how easy and rewarding that is.
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.
I was recently challenged to offer foundational support regarding Games Based Dog Training. Some people need proof that something new and revolutionary works, and so I wrote a reply. I think some of you may find what you need here as well.
Games Based Dog Training draws from many sources. There are shades of Skinner who did work in the 1960s. I see commonality with Susan Garrett, Suzanne Clothier, Patricia McConnell and Victoria Stillwell, but Games Based Dog Training is innovative and new. It draws from human psychology with the Russell Dimensional Model which defines emotions as Fear, Worry, Excitement or Calmness. Many so called reactive dogs spend all their time in Fear or Worry and never reach Calmness. I know my dog never did until I found Games Based Dog Training which gave me the tools to lead her to Calmness where she makes far better decisions than those that came from a state of Fear or Worry.
Tom Mitchell is a Vet Behaviorist in the UK and his partner, Lauren Langman trained as a lawyer, worked as a teacher, and is now running the biggest dog training facility in the UK and one of the largest in the world. She also competes with great success in agility on the world stage.
They both live Games Based Dog Training 24/7.
As science builds on repeatable results, Tom did many experiments during his studies. The one he often refers to tests whether a dog is a pessimist or optimist. Once that was determined a correlation of behavior issues could be seen in the dogs determined to be pessimistic. A friend of his ran a separate study of shelter dogs. She measured the level of stress hormones in dogs housed in a shelter and found the dogs that huddled frozen in their cages had significantly higher stress hormones circulating than those that showed some form of behavior. This led to the conclusion that by choosing a behavior, any behavior, the dog was able to disperse stress hormones. However, the behavior could be anything. Barking. Pacing. Biting their Tail, Lunging at the Gate, or Offering a Paw. It all relieved stress.
Dogs are efficient. They will do what makes them feel better, even if for only a short time. The issues can start when that behavior isn’t the best choice. Games Based Dog Training works because it reinforces better choices, builds an amazing bond between dog and owner, and by giving them the skills they need to fit into our lifestyle. Dogs learn to use their efficient brains to make better behavioral choices that make everyone feel better.
Games Based Dog Training helps active puppies through delicate seniors, both with behavioral issues or not. Simply put, the Games give them skills to navigate our human constructed society. My next puppy will grow up with Games Based Training, and my now senior dog will live out the rest of her life playing these scientifically designed games that finally gave her peace and happiness. I still marvel at how far she has come.
There is, of course, more to this, but that is better expressed in a consultation or class setting. Know that Games Based Dog Training is firmly rooted in science. It sprang from a creative dog behaviorist and a professional dog trainer. They were seeking a better way to work with their own dogs which has led to changing the lives of thousands of dogs around the world. You can find some of our games on the RosyDogs FaceBook group, and I encourage you to play them. The games are fun, easy, and require no special equipment. It can be difficult to clearly assess your own dog so a Certified Games Based Dog Trainer is recommended especially for dogs already struggling. Additionally, once you begin to see progress, you will realize how special this training is, and you will likely want to learn more. I would be honored if you let me share what I know with you and your dog.
I am an active member of a global community of other Games Based Dog Trainers who support one another. I am also a member of the writing team at Absolute Dogs, the Training Location where Lauren and Tom teach. If I can't see the best way forward, I have the ear of a global community to help your dog. Each week new games are designed as we continue to stretch our creativity. It's an exciting time to be a part of something this big. I do hope you give it a try. I know you'll be amazed.
Borrowing from human psychology, we can understand dogs better. They are intelligent and creative beings just like us. They experience stress hormones and the physical affect they have upon the body. Ask any dog lover and they will tell you dogs are emotional creatures.
This chart is based on the Russell Dimensional Model. It diagrams how humans, and by extension dogs, live in the emotional states of either Fear, Excitement, Worry, or Calmness. Just like us, dogs tend to make poor decisions while in a state of fear or worry, and make better choices in an excited emotional state-with practice, but the best choices are made in a state of calmness. Our job, as dog caretakers is to help them find calmness as the default emotion. Some dogs are lucky and just naturally chill out in calmness, others struggle to even find a moment of the respite offered by calmness.
Research also shows that just like a beams of light, emotions travel in straight lines. Think about it. It's much easier to move directly from worry to fear than fear to calmness.
Add in a general state of pleasure or displeasure and the dog settles in as an optimist or pessimist. In the chart this is expressed as the left side being displeasure and the right side being pleasure. Finally, emotions move up and down with the increasing or decreasing brain activity. If the dog is in a mindset of Pleasure it functions on the right side of the chart where things are happy and bright. If the dog is displeased it is functioning on the left side. Increase the brain activity of a dog already displeased and you get fear. Lower the brain activity and the emotional state returns to worry, but it doesn't have to stay there. Through Games Based Training the dog will move to the right side of the chart and settle into calmness where all those good choices begin.
This is not to say that dogs should spend all their time in calmness. They need active brains or life would be nothing but boredom. Dogs are curious. They love to play and they will invent their own games if need be. Brain activity is good. Fear and worry have their place as well. Those instincts have kept the species alive.
All four emotions are necessary. It's our job as Games Based Trainers to teach our dogs to spend nearly all their time on the right side of the chart, and to ultimately teach them through Games to default to Calmness where all good decisions can be made.
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.