Chance at his watch post
What do you do when you don't have any treats for training and such? I am trying an experiment with the Chance and teaching him to be less reactive when my husband is walking the Back Dogs. I have Chance in his fenced area while my husband walks each Back Dog by us one by one.
I have been playing with different ideas with this scenario and I never have treats on me nor do I really think about it. Then one time when my husband was coming back with one of the dogs and Chance sat watching, I knelt down and began to pet him which lead into massaging his back. Up and down his spine, gently working my fingers in, when I noticed he was turning his attention towards me. All the while talking calmly with him while he communicated back to me what he was witnessing and feeling. I have found through our walk training that sitting is very productive for him, not just for calming down, but where he can safely witnesses and express what he is seeing, thinking and feeling and I listen. This helps him ground himself when he is over excited, yet he can still take in what is going on around him. Having Chance sit has been a valuable tool when we come across dogs, people and wildlife on our walks and since he was already sitting I utilize his position.
Most of the time I don't use treats, not for any other reason than I usually don't have them on me. And if I do have them I use them sparely because I usually don't have many. I don't use toys or other objects because they have very little value to the dogs, so I am left with just me and my dog. What do I do? The massage seem to work. Out of the four Back Dogs, Chance only has a slight reaction with three of them and when I began massaging him with one of the less threatening dogs, I had great results. Not only did it work, but we did it together. By feeling him we were able to speak to each other as well as listen to each other. Something I have found so pertinent with my dogs and being able to acknowledge how they are feeling. Sometimes all it takes is that little extra understanding of where they are coming from that they can turn around and give what I am asking of them.
It was an awesome moment with Chance and we were able to do it again with the last Back Dog, Silver, another easy practice, and once Chance was confident all was safe and sound, we had a round of play for reward. It was simply beautiful watching this fascinating dog feel so validated and secure and I was simply amazed to be a part of this wonderful dance we have together, never knowing where the next note will take us.
So how about you? What do you use when you don't have treats? And if you don't use treats, what do you find works for you and your dog?