We are always impressed with the way renowned dog trainer Susan Garrett delivers a concept. You may have heard about her famous ‘Recallers’ program. We’d like to share with you the way she illustrates her idea called the ‘Fun-O-Metre’.
What Susan impresses is that a dog’s learning will be successful provided it is delivered whilst the dog is in an appropriate state of mind (just like people). The optimal time is in the absence of fear, extreme excitement and distractions. In addition, if you make it fun and in a setting where your dog feels safe you are well on the path to making learning effective andyour dog will want to do it again.
Imagine a pie chart divided into triangular portions. Each portion contains a word to describe a particular canine state of mind. We move clockwise around. It begins with a dog feeling fear and anxiousness. As you move further around it indicates ‘not much going on’ with possible boredom and next up is the dog feeling comfortable in his surrounds. This can easily increase to being interested or excited (a great place for training/learning to occur). Then the last quadrant is devoted to states she calls ‘Wired’ and at highest state of arousal ‘Red-Lining’. Although a dog can still learn when he is wired he is over excited and on the brink of red-lining where he will no longer be thinking about you or listening to you. One example of red-lining is a dog in such a wound-up state it runs into something. The human no longer means anything and the dog will not respond to the human.
Susan describes just how quickly a dog can from move from one state of mind to another. She explains the segments of this pie are not even, and vary from dog to dog. For example, some dogs end up spending a lot of their day in the anxious zone, whilst the dogs spending a good deal of their day in the bored zone are most likely you chew up your couch simply because there’s nothing better to do. Dogs at the other end of the scale have trouble calming down. Susan asks that dog owners practice assessing whereabouts their dog is at any given in time in this circle of fun.
It is only fair that we attempt to train by paying mind to, or persuading a dog’s state of mind. If the environment and motivation is right, he can focus and learn. Susan encourages owners to ‘grow’ their dog’s comfort zone in order to reduce the amount of time spent in the anxious zone or highly aroused zones.
If you’d like to find out more about Susan check out her website below…
Leah & Angela O’Meara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)