Real-Life Impulse Control For NBN Dogs: “Whip-It” Game!

nbndog1In the last blog post, I introduced you to what a Naughty But Nice dog is and how you can take steps towards turning struggles with reactivity, chase or anxiety into massive strengths!

Now comes the training! Owning a NBN dog, I’m sure you have heard many times about impulse control training (or self-control training). It’s so so crucial for these types of dogs - why? Because NBN dogs have a lot of impulses (or desires) fuelled by some powerful emotions - whether that’s fear, frustration or overexcitement! Your NBN dog’s desire might be to chase small furry things, lunge at other dogs, visit other people or dogs or even to be rather noisy! Impulse control is key.

Here’s the thing. Training real-life impulse control requires real life impulses! We often say, there’s no point training impulse control without the imPULSE - it just doesn’t translate to real life that way. In fact, it can separate your training sessions from real life even further. Enter my favourite game - the whip-it game!

The whip-it game involves building real desire and harnessing your dog’s desire to chase, using a horse lunge whip with a toy attachment! We then apply real-life impulse control to it! We show you how to play it in our latest free training video that you can find here: http://nbn.absolute-dogs.com/3-minute-gamechanger-impulse-control

There are two stages to the beginning of this game, and it is absolutely crucial that the steps are followed in order and that you do not progress from one step to the next until you are seeing exactly what you want in that step. Rushing through the stages in this can compromise the valuable concepts that are being taught.

Step 1. CHASE

This is the most important step. Animate the toy on the end of the lunge whip and get your dog chasing it along the ground, keep the lunge whip low and ahead of your dog.

Occasionally your dog will manage to grab the toy - keep a nice balance between chasing and managing to grab it to keep motivation high and intensity in the pursuit.

When your dog grabs the toy, let them have it, don’t ask them to drop it or release it and when they release it from their mouths to re-grip, simply whip it away from them. This builds even more desire in the pursuit and grabbing.

Keep sessions very short and high energy.

We need this to emulate all the other impulses your dog will have in day-to-day life so making it boring, adding rules too early or applying too much pressure in the game, will not allow learning of the concepts and skills that this valuable game can provide when done right.nbndog2

Step 2. CONTROL

This is where we ask our dogs to control themselves. It’s really important that we don’t add in this step too early. We want chasing the toy on the whip to represent every highly distracting, highly exciting event in their lives - if we add in control too early before creating the ravenous, crazy desire, we’ll never get that result.

When your dog is chasing, flip the toy from side to side until your dog stops still and waits. Reward the controlling themselves immediately with their release word (“ok go”) to go get it again.

BALANCE

It is super important that you balance these first two steps. Overdoing the CONTROL step will ruin the behaviour and concepts you are training long-term. Typically keeping the ratio of  chasing to controlling themselves to 10 repetitions of chase to 1 of control is adequate but some very diligent dogs may need more repetitions of chase to keep the game true to its purpose.

And that’s the beginnings of whip-its! This is a huge element of working with any Naughty but Nice dog and the results are so evident! Go check out the video and make sure to follow the technique exactly: http://nbn.absolute-dogs.com/3-minute-gamechanger-impulse-control


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Positively Expert: Tom Mitchell

Tom is a veterinarian, clinical behaviourist and companion and sports dog trainer, providing a unique perspective on all things dog.


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