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The Power of Premack: Fence Fighting

Canis Film Festival - Canis 2011 - 2nd Runner-up -

Canis Film Festival

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by Sarah Owings and Bridges Dog Training

This is a seven minute tutorial on how to use the Premack Principle to build voluntary focus in your dog even in highly distracting situations. It is very much a Zen exercise for the handler: in order to get the dog, you must release the dog. I am marking small moments of reorientation with the clicker, feeding a high value food reinforcer, and then immediately releasing the dog to go back to the fence. Very quickly this creates a strong behavioral chain of: alert to the distraction----then turn to find me.

During the course of the session, both my dogs' ability to focus increases by a factor of ten. I include data for the session at the end to show quantitatively how allowing a dog access to a previously forbidden activity (in addition to R+) really can work.