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What are “pattern games” and why are they great for fearful + reactive dogs?


behaviouralist london on

We LOVE using pattern games over here at Treat Yourself Dog Training - keep reading to learn why, and scroll down to learn more about our upcoming virtual class on this very topic! What are pattern games? Pattern games are training exercises originating from the Control Unleashed series by Leslie McDevitt. They teach dogs a specific pattern of movement to follow in order to be rewarded. Dogs learn the patterns outside of the situations that trigger them, and then practice them around triggers when they’re ready. Pattern games have gained popularity in recent years due to how simple and effective they are for a wide range of issues. We love pattern games because they are FUN! One of the reasons pattern games are used so much is that they are fun for both ends of the leash. Training has to be enjoyable for both parties to see the most progress, and pattern games make it so that you can change training for serious, emotional issues into a fun format that helps lighten the mood for everyone. We love pattern games because they are PREDICTABLE! If you have a fearful or reactive dog, you know that these dogs tend to fear the unknown and unexpected. Whether it’s a dog coming around the corner, a stranger moving suddenly or a skateboard whizzing by from behind you, it’s safe to say that your dog would prefer if the world was a bit more predictable. While we can’t control the actions of others, we can introduce training where our dog controls the outcome and knows what to expect next. This is where pattern games come in. We like pattern games because they’re EASY! Unlike other training exercises that take a certain amount of skill to execute well, pattern games are hard to mess up. They are simple enough for people who do not have any experience to pick up and they’re easy for dogs to learn. This removes a lot of pressure from our training setups, which can negatively impact the training process. Ready to get started? Our next Pattern Games for Reactivity and Fear online group class still has spots available. Use the button below to snag your spot for October. Tess Morgan is a dog trainer and behaviour consultant serving clients in London, ON and online. She specializes in behavioural issues such as reactivity, fear and separation anxiety.


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