The most common reason that dog parents come to me for help is that their dog is struggling with some form of reactivity. Dogs who are fearful of delivery people, dogs who are freaked out by cars, dogs who attempt to chase wildlife, and most commonly, dogs who are anxious about -- or overly excited by -- other dogs.
Although the trigger itself varies, and the details of each individual's training plan is unique, one thing connects every single one of my students who is on a reactivity recovery journey: they learn to play the Engage - Disengage Game.
This game has the power to benefit any dog and dog parent team, even those who might not see their dog as having issues with reactivity. Here's why it's so awesome:
It's very simple to play (for both human and dog).
Playing the game creates positive associations with the very thing that once created fear, anxiety, or frustration.
Playing the game teaches your dog how to disengage from a trigger or distraction, and instead to seek contact with you. That's every dog parent's dream, am I right?
To learn how to play, check out the fantastic illustration and the video demos below.
This video captures Molly's first time playing Level 1 of the Engage - Disengage Game around other dogs.
At one point she is unable to disengage when I say "nice," so I try some other attention sounds, and she eventually looks at me. If she had shown other signs of going over threshold, I would have increased the distance between us and the other dogs or taken a break. But since she remains calm and does eventually engage with me, we continue playing for a bit longer.
This video captures Rosie playing the game around a flock of geese at the beach. She is mostly in Level 1 at this point, but has a few successful Level 2 disengagements throughout the session. By playing this game consistently, Rosie has almost completely stopped attempting to chase geese and ducks, and she instead looks at me when she sees one. Which of course continues to earn her a generous reward!
Welcome to everydog.
We believe in the power of positive reinforcement and play, in the development of mutual respect through building solid relationships, and in the importance of understanding and meeting each individual where they are.