So, what we’re doing is walking along the grass that we are soon going to play on. But we are not engaging in ANY playful interaction or stepping on the grass, before Mila has been walking at least a few steps right beside me without dragging towards the grass.
And we gradually raise that bar over time during our walks.
The good thing is that the subsequent fetch now even makes for a great reward for the polite behavior she has displayed before.
Another “spoiler” that makes the importance of intentionally breaking the anticipation of our dogs now and then very clear also happens on our training walks:
I am teaching Mila to sit and wait, before we cross a street. Also at the same time in this situation, I try to improve our communication by waiting until she has looked up to me for reinsurance. Only then I praise her in a low voice and we will cross the street.
I am hoping that this procedure MAY be able to help her survive in the worst case scenario of her breaking loose one day and running towards a street.
Yet, it’s no guarantee and also I honestly rather prey for such a situation to NEVER happen, instead of relying on the training to work in that situation.
Nevertheless, this procedure is also practical when walking orderly together in traffic anyways, for example, when waiting at a red light before crossing street etc.
So, what happened now is that Mila is sitting politely, looking up to me a few seconds later and then … jumps right up and tries to continue the walk.
She is ANTICIPATING what happens after she looked at me without waiting for my instructions, going straight ahead and doing what she thinks comes next.
Here’s the decisive mistake I have made to inadvertently reinforcing this behavior and forming anticipation: I reacted too predictively in the past. What I need to do now is change the intervals, make her wait a little longer sometimes and sometimes walk right ahead once she has looked at me.
This will break her anticipation at some point and hopefully lead her to focus even more on me and rely on my guidance. The goal is to get her away from predicting and towards waiting for my instructions.
We can do that and we’ll get there.
I hope this post was able to help one or the other to get a better understanding of our dog’s ability to be a “crystal ball”. 🙂
And maybe you even find some tips on how to use this to our and the dog’s benefit in some situations, while actively breaking it in other situations – again, of course only for the benefit of our dog.