Dog Trainer Questions from the Webinar “Still Looking for the One Solution to Aggression Problems? Or is There Really Such a Thing.”
Trainer Question 1
Q: I agree that the focus exercise is not a cure for aggression, however, what do you think of it as a venue for the dog learning self control?
A: In my opinion, one of the best lines in our dog training business is the line that states, any behavior that a dog chooses has more strength than a behavior elicited by the handler. In terms of the focus exercise, if the exercise is trained and reinforced by the handler as a means to distract the dog from looking elsewhere, then it may not have been the dogs idea to give “eyes” to the handler. When it’s not the dogs idea, then often times there is conflict, look at the handler or look at let’s say the other dog which may very well be a stronger impulse for the dog. If the dog learns to choose and not be prompted to focus in an effort to gain rewards, it may say something about actual self control. I personally love the focus exercise and used it to help control one of my Shepherds, but focus was never his idea, he did it to gain a bite reward in his schutzhund training and with it received fairly good scores in obedience despite strong distractions. Using it to try to lessen inter dog aggression makes no sense to me unless the dog can show muscle relaxation in the presence of other dogs.
If you would like to get in touch with Steve Diller contact him at www.stevediller.com