Featuring Jen Larson, KPA-CTP
Concept by Courtney Emken

With the summer heat still going, indoor games are essential to keep your dog staying active and stimulated. We have 2 more installments left in our Pattern Games series. Today’s game is called “Super Bowls!” Watch and learn, then try it yourself. For extra credit, let us know in the comments what happened!

Hi, I’m Jen and I’m the manager of the training department. And this is Copper, we’re going to be demonstrating another pattern game for you today. So, this game is called Super Bowls. And the way it works is that I’m gonna go to each bowl, I’m gonna stop and ask Copper for a different behavior at each bowl, when she does it, I’m gonna mark and then I’m gonna reinforce by tossing a treat into the bowl. She’s gonna eat the treat, look back up at me and then I know she’s ready to continue to the next game. So couple things to keep in mind about pattern games, they’re all about working the dog in a framework of predictable behaviors so the dog knows what’s expected, the game is predictable, they start to feel really safe working inside of that pattern. You can use pattern games to work on basic foundation skills, like attention and focus, sit, down, touch, all that kind of stuff. Improving leash behavior. And you could also use it with reactive dogs.

So you start working them inside that pattern until they feel really safe working there. And then you can introduce triggers of reactivity into the environment. So, a lot of dogs’ triggers of reactivity are things like other dogs unleashed, kids on skateboards, a guy with a hat, things like that. So you’d be able to start slowly introducing that trigger while they’re working in their pattern. So you start with four or five bowls. You put them in a nice, straight line. You can do this in your house. In your backyard. Wherever you’ve got the space. So, I’m gonna start with her over here. I’m gonna get her focused on me. And then I’m gonna ask for a fun, easy behavior from her. So, I’m gonna use a nose to hands target behavior called touch. If she does it, I’m gonna mark and then I’m gonna reinforce by dropping a treat in the bowl. When she looks up at me, I know she’s ready to continue to the next. Good, so another cool thing about pattern games is they’re dog-directed. So you wait for cues, from the dog to know that they’re ready to move to the next step. Good. Good, good job. Good job. Good. Yes, good girl. Okay. So I would just keep working this line of bowls until Copper is feeling really comfortable and feeling safe working inside this pattern. So it you’re interested in learning a little bit more pattern games, I really recommend this book called Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevvit. And she works primarily with reactive dogs. And so you can learn lots of different fun pattern games and kind of a little bit more about reactivity too.