Did you ever enjoy playing platform video games like ‘Super Mario’ or ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ as a child? I am sure, like many others, you did! Now you may be wondering what this has got to do with you and your dog?
Well, the aim of platform video games like these, is for you to navigate a virtual world and collect as many tokens as you can along the way. This is done by running and jumping through each stage of the game to collect your tokens, hence the name. Sometimes it’s easy to grab lots of tokens in one go, while others are harder to reach, and this can be applied to your dog’s day-to-day life.
How to use the Jump ‘N’ Run-Game in dogtraining
If you find yourself in a situation which could be potentially tricky for your dog to handle, then the Jump ‘N’ Run game can help you navigate it more effectively.
So, if your dog is still under threshold and approachable, but you know that they may struggle to cope with what lies ahead, then this is exactly when you can use this game. The aim is the same as the virtual video games, but instead of collecting coins or tokens, we are looking for targets.
Targets can be anything the dog can put their feet on, or jump on. This could be a log, a trunk of tree, a stone, a bollard, a grid cover, a bench, or anything you can find in your immediate environment that is safe for your dog to stand or jump on. In return for touching or standing on a target, your dog is rewarded with treats.
Here’s how you can teach your dog the Jump ‘N’ Run game?
Start in a low or non-distractive environment where your dog feels comfortable. This could be the street outside your home, or a field without other dogs or people present for example. Next, choose something you can use as a target. Lure your dog with a treat to start with and encourage them to put their feet onto the target. Then, when they have their feet up and onto the object, you release the treat. Once your dog has got the hang of this, you can gradually increase the level of distractions around them and repeat this level.
By this point, your dog should have a good understanding of what they need to do when they come across a target. However, it’s likely they will still need some help with what you consider to be a target. So, you can point to the object they need to navigate to, so they are still getting a bit of guidance and support, without being lured. Once they have successfully navigated to the target, let them collect their treat.
At this stage, your dog will fully understand what a target is and will begin to look for potential targets themselves. Release their lead so they can orientate towards the targets themselves. Then give them several treats for successfully hitting the target.
What Are The Benefits Of The Jump ‘N’ Run Game?
It Keeps Your Dog’s Dopamine Levels High
The game keeps your dog’s dopamine levels up because they are always on the hunt for the next target, to earn themselves another reward. This is the same reason why people love playing video games! All because it makes them feel good, so it motivates them to keep playing.
It Keeps Your Dog In A Thinking State
For dogs that may be fearful, uncertain, or have predatory motivation, this game keeps your dog in a thinking state. Instead of them being impulsive and struggling to control their excitement, Jump ‘N’ Run gives your dog something to focus on. This allows them to concentrate on finding the next target and keeps them moving forwards.
It Keeps Your Dog In Contact With You
This is especially good news for dogs who like to hunt alone. Because Jump ‘N’ Run encourages your dog to work with you, instead of by themselves. This gives you more control over their hunting and a way to manage it in a safe way, while still letting your dog ‘hunt.’ Jump ‘N’ Run replicates the seeking aspect the predatory sequence, which many dogs, regardless of breed, will find motivating and interesting.
It Avoids Your Dog Becoming Fixated On Triggers
For dogs that can be reactive, Jump ‘N’ Run can help them to avoids fixation on their triggers because it gives the brain something else to think about. While this is only possible if the dog is under their threshold and still able to think clearly, it can help to give them something more interesting to focus on, which gives you some more time to adjust the situation and help your dog feel calmer.
The author: Simone Mueller
Predation Substitute Expert & Founder of Predation Substitute Training