This is for my friend Kim down in Florida! She has a spectacular spotted boy that runs agility with TONS of enthusiasm. There are a couple of people that they have run into at trials lately that seem to bother the spotted boy. So when she said she was going to see if they would take a few minutes to help her the next time she ran into them - I thought of Suzanne Clothier's Treat and Retreat Game. And Kim thought it sounded like a Blog Post!
Essentially you start with tossing the dog a treat so that the dog has to move towards the "strange people" a little bit. The person tossing the treat needs to move away from the dog - removing pressure away from the dog. When the dog then looks to the "stranger" again - toss cookie and move away while the dog is eating the cookie. I am sure I am not doing justice to the description of the exercise! At the seminar there was a dog attending that was somewhat leary of strangers. And with in maybe 30 minutes the dog was happily approaching one stranger and taking treats from the strangers hand. We then repeated the session with another stranger and the process was even quicker. It is VERY important to remember to take the steps away from the dog - even as the dogs skill and comfort is increases. Here is what I have in my notes:
-toss the treat when you are on the dogs radar then take a couple of steps back
-as the dog looks up toss a treat towards the dog, having it land so the dog has to take a step or two towards the stranger.
-DON'T forget to take those steps away
-Don't always make things harder and harder!
-ALWAYS leave the dog wanting more!
-Remember, the dog needs to tell you where to start.
-The DOG needs to make the choice to close the distance
-The dogs do seem to generalize this pretty quickly and eventually you will get to the point where you have to start working on only greeting people when you give permission.
Maybe if I can get my act together I can try to video a demo soon!