The term ‘bounce’ was coined by Dog Behaviourist Emma Parsons. It’s all about teaching your dog to look away from distractions and look back at you; your dog literally ‘bounces’ his attention from one thing (the distraction) to another thing (you).
Why is the bounce useful?
Do certain things in your dog’s environment cause him to become over-excited, frustrated or anxious? Do you struggle to get Fido’s attention?
Teaching your dog the bounce can help to change his emotional response and behavioural reaction to triggers, and learn instead to calmly focus on you. Now doesn’t that sound like a more relaxed and enjoyable time for you both!
To train the bounce successfully, you want your dog to be noticing the environment but not to be fixated on it. This way Fido is in the right frame of mind to think and respond, rather than react.
1) With your dog on a lead, position yourself so that when the distraction in question appears, it will be in the far distance from you and your dog.
2) When your dog looks at the distraction just wait – stand still, don’t say or do anything.
3) Wait until your dog turns his attention back to you (the bounce). When this happens, click and then offer a tasty reward; ideally toss the treat onto the ground in the opposite direction from the distraction, reinforcing the look-away behaviour.
4) If Fido looks at the trigger again – wait until he bounces his attention back to you, then click and treat as above.
5) Only click and deliver a single treat to your dog when he has bounced his attention from the distraction to you. (If we feed continuously, we lose the opportunity to reset and repeat.)
6) Don’t prompt your dog to turn away from the distraction by pulling the lead, calling their name or saying or doing anything else – give your dog time to think and make a choice.
But what if...?
Your dog doesn’t turn their attention away from the distraction, lunges, barks or can’t take food?
This means your dog is over ‘threshold’. In other words, you are far too close to the distraction for your dog to focus on learning something new. . Double (or treble) the distance between your dog and the distraction before you start again. It’s crucial your dog is under threshold so he can ‘think and respond’ rather than ‘react’ emotionally.
Listen to Fido’s feedback
Waiting for the ‘bounce’ gives you important feedback about your dog’s state of mind
Please contact a good Trainer or Behaviourist before applying this technique.
Training the bounce sounds simple right? However, judging the distance from the distraction, the timing as well as how and where to deliver the reward is crucial. So whilst this article serves as a quick introduction, it’s best to get a good Dog Trainer or Behaviourist to help you get your bounce action just right!
Article written by Joy Matthews, Dog Trainer at (Joyful Dogs). If you would like help training your dog or puppy, contact Joy@Joyfuldogs.co.uk