Monday, June 16, 2014

Flip the Fish - Self Control Game

In human psychology, impulse control refers to people's ability to delay gratification or resist their immediate desires, impulses or temptations. In short, impulse control means self-control or self-restraint. Babies have no impulse control, but they learn it from their parents and environment as they develop.

Dogs are similar to babies. They have no idea that they can't have things they want right when they want them and can't do everything they want right when they feel the urge. Most dogs need to learn to control or inhibit their behavior. With small puppies, it's relatively easy for us to prevent undesirable behaviors-like chewing furniture or running off in pursuit of a nice scent-simply by picking them up. But as they grow larger and become more independent, it's difficult to prevent their inappropriate behavior if they haven't been taught to control their impulses.

Back when I was a kid, there was a game called Flip the Fish.  It involved a kiddie pool, buckets and plastic fish.  We pretended we were bears and flipped the fish out of the pool trying to get them into the buckets.  Since I grew up with dogs and cats all around, the dogs would always get into the game with us trying to catch the fish before they ended up in the bucket.  The dogs learned fast that once the fish was in the bucket it was “safe”.

Over the years, I’ve used this game (and many others) in many forms to teach self-control both to dogs and kids.  It’s much like Mouse In A Hole except the excitement level is very high.

A form of this game that I use now is with radio controlled cars and creatures.  Especially with the snake avoidance class. 

Get some cheap RC cars and you can get snakes as well.  The purpose of the game with the cars is to get the car from point A to point B without getting caught by the dog.  The dog has to learn that points A & B are safety zones.  You must be quick because you really don’t want the dog to actually capture the car/animal. The safe zones are always behind a bush or tree or rock.  The places where snakes are usually found.

Change your safe zones often until you are sure your dog understands that anything hiding in a bush or rock is “safe”.



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