Take a look at this 10 second video:

Do you see how the puppy is paying attention to the handler in a playful fashion for several seconds before moving on?  Not following out of a need for security, but genuinely trying to engage?

Now watch this short video:

This is what happened immediately BEFORE the above video.  So what do we see here? Engagement from handler to the dog and from dog to handler through personal play!  Note how the handler pushes the puppy away to increase arousal and then calmed the puppy to decrease it – what a fantastic life skill!

I watched this team for about ten minutes during which time I saw this cycle repeated many times in various ways; random, playful interactions without any food or toys.  And I noticed that when the handler called the puppy’s name to interact, the puppy consistently came instantly and joyously because he already valued his handler as a partner worthy of his attention!

Take the time to build your playful relationship with your dog and develop your dog’s interest in engaging with you.  While the pair in the video are not striving for long-term competition (as far as I know), they ARE striving for a strong interpersonal relationship. Based on what I see here, I’d say they are likely to get there.

I call this “pre-engagement” work.  Can you see how this will make future engagement training easier?

On Thursday evening at 6 pm PT, I will teach a webinar called “Staged to engage: Pre-engagement Strategies”.  The webinar will be about the choices that we make before we start formal engagement training that make future engagement training easier – what we see in the above videos!  We’ll discuss several topics that influence our ability to get engagement later such as how we might want to socialize our puppies,  developing manners without dampening enthusiasm, interactive play vs. self-control, and training decisions that influence our ability to obtain formal engagement in the future.  We’ll also discuss the issue of engagement in relation to innate temperament.

There will be plenty of time at the end for questions, so I hope you can join me live!  If not, a copy of the webinar (including the question and answer period) will be placed in your FDSA webinar library for viewing at your leisure.  Webinar tuition is $19.95

Hope to see some of you there. Learn more and register here: