Is Your Dog Channel Surfing while You're Distracted?
It happens all the time. We put on a show to watch, then we remember an email or text we need to reply to. Before we know it, we've gone down the social media rabbit hole and we have to replay that show from the beginning. The same thing can happen with our dogs.
Our dogs can disengage from us by going down actual rabbit holes. We can disengage from our dogs by checking our phones or stopping to chat with friends. When we disengage without giving our dogs something to do, our dogs may scan the environment, much like channel surfing, and pick the Bark at Squirrels channel. Once we resume focusing on our dogs, we end up exasperated by their “doggie behavior”. Disengaging can become a cue to "go do dog things and be a dog".
There are times when dogs should be encouraged to fulfill their natural behaviors. And, there are times when you just need them to hang out for a moment while you attend to your distraction.
Before disengaging with your dog, remember to give them a behavior to perform while they wait for you to re-engage with them. This may be a sit, down, or stand stay that you’ve previously trained. Give them this cue before you change the channel from connection to distraction. This way, they'll be ready for you when you change the channel back.
Be mindful of how many times you disengage from your dog. When you're working with your dog, minimize your distractions. Don't change the channel, stay engaged! Celebrate the teamwork on BOTH ends of the leash.