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Self Control vs Desire

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We need BOTH!

If we want a dog that chooses us over the environment, or a dog that can listen and make good choices we need BOTH desire and self control for our dogs.
I am always building desire in my dogs, desire for rewards, desire to work with me, desire to engage with toys and play. This then needs to be matched with self control. We must make sure that these are both balanced so we don’t get too much of one without the other.
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Too much desire without self control will cause frustration and problem behaviours such as jumping and barking and stealing.
Too much self control without desire will cause dogs to shut down or lose focus to find their own entertainment which again can also include barking and stealing, digging and so much more.
We work on both desire and self control using fun cleverly designed games to keep our dogs engaged.
  • Start with playing and learning what your dog loves, each dog is different. No rules at this stage.
  • Then add some self control with simple permission type behaviours such as a sit then “ok” which means your puppy can have the toy.
  • If they keep failing, make the task easier and gradually build it up. This may be as simple as using a different toy or holding it up higher until your dog offers a sit.
  • Think about easy wins and lots of success as this is a fantastic way for a dog to learn.
Remember to keep topping up the desire and self control so both are at a good level.
Have a go at the Sexier Than A Squirrel Challange for some fantastic focus and engagement games!!

With a young puppy or new dog, work on playing and finding out what they love. I am always encouraging them to interact with me once they have the toy. These special toys go away in a cupboard when we are not playing.

Do this in a space where there are no distractions and they can’t run off with the toy.

This Toy Switch game is one of the fab games in Sexier Than A Squirrel!

Even when my dogs are older and can offer more self control and steadiness, I am always making sure I am topping up the desire for the game, making sure it is fun and rewarding for the dog.

Teaching an off switch

Building an off switch, and teaching our dogs to settle is also so important. We love to use crates, beds, long lasting chews, kongs to help our dogs switch off and settle. Check out the kitchen manners blog on how to start teaching Boundary game – settle to bed.

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