The Devon Dogs Secret to a Really Reliable Recall – Part 4


In our article last month’s at Devon Dogs we discussed Impulse Control. This time around we’ll delve into THINKING IN AROUSAL. First off, what is Thinking in Arousal?

Thinking in arousal is the ability to process information when arousal levels are high. Arousal = excitement, so essentially, can your dog think when they get excited?  This is such an important skill to teach your dog. Why? When your dog sees something that excites them, their arousal level increases and without the ability to think in arousal, their ability to do what you want decreases.

Why not keep up the training momentum and join us for some super fun online training in the Worldwide Sexier than a Squirrel Challenge?

As with all life skills that we teach, we look at teaching THINKING IN AROUSAL as a concept which, when trained, built and proofed will transfer over to everyday life.  Before you get started with the training games, you need to set your dog up for success. It’s not fair on your dog to jack them up to insane fever-pitch excitement levels to begin with. Get your dog excited at the level that they can cope with and build from there. A THINKING IN AROUSAL game that we want to share with you all actually has an IMPULSE CONTROL element in it too!

Here’s how you play:

    • With your dog in a controlled position (sit/down/stand) walk out and place some food on the ground
    • Ask you dog to perform a behaviour they know well
    • If they perform that behaviour, release them onto the food

This is the first level of thinking in arousal training. Can your dog perform a behaviour when there’s food out on the ground? Increase the complexity and your dog’s arousal levels of this particular game by:

    • Using higher value food
    • Increasing your dog’s excitement before asking for a behaviour by saying things like “Are you ready? 3-2-1!!’ Do ya wanna da food!!’
    • Rather than you dog being in a controlled position, restrain them by holding the front of their chest. Did you know that being restrained automatically increases arousal?!  As you let them go, ask them to perform a behaviour!

This is just one game that you can play to teach your dog the art of thinking in arousal.  Have fun teaching your dog this much needed skill, but always remember to work at your dog’s level. If they get to a point where their mind is blown and you are getting a whole lot of vocalisation and frustration, this can be counter-productive.

Arousal levels can be manipulated up and down, so if you need to decrease arousal to get success in your training session, that’s cool, just know that you need to build those layers of learning from the level you are seeing success. If you are in need of reducing your dog’s arousal levels, here are some things that you can do to help your dog:

  1. Calmly massage your dog to help them calm down
  2. Calmly scatter some food on the ground for your dog to seek out and eat
  3. Pop a leash on and calmly walk in a figure of 8

In the meantime, if you would like our help with your recall struggles, we have a great workshop coming up on 5th September, Leash Off Game On (LOGO) Workshop – The Ultimate RECALL Boooooost, limited spaces available – first come, first served!  And we are offering several online learning experience opportunities as well.

If you would rather have our trainer completely to yourself, why not try our individual 121 training.  Or you may also want to take advantage of a Training Consult Call with one of our trainers.

To learn more, visit our website, email us on [email protected], or call us directly on (07717) 696623 we are happy to assist you and help you with all your training needs.