When executing a Mission, there are a few things you should know:
- When running through a mission, all parties who are home will need to participate. Running a mission while someone is home (even in another room with the door closed) is not “organic” and will skew your data.
- Ensure that your dog has had a potty break and their regular exercise – nothing needs to change for the missions but we want our dogs to be comfortable.
- If you have chosen to keep your dog in their crate or confinement area during absences, you can set them up there about 5 minutes before you start, and leave them there for the entire duration of the mission. Ideally they have an unobstructed view of the front door. (This creates much less frustration.)
- In between each step, spend 30 seconds to 2 minutes doing something natural; sit on couch and check your phone, put dishes away, fold laundry, write your grocery list, send a couple emails, etc. Don’t pay your dog much (if any) attention – simply “be natural”.
- Avoid running a mission when you have other distractions (phone calls, deliveries, meals, family members coming home or leaving, etc) as these changes can disrupt your work and cause a negative result.
- During each step, act as you normally do – no need to walk backwards, staring at them, or to talk them through what you’re doing. Most especially, don’t cue your dog to do any behaviours, such as “sit”, “lie down”, or “stay”. This is not an exercise in obedience! This is highly unnecessary and counterproductive.
- After each step, you might be inclined to reward your dog for good behaviour with some praise or a treat or some pats. Resist the urge! No rewards necessary as this can get them riled up and cause setbacks in your next steps. Be boring.
- Take notes! This is the best way to track your data and know exactly where you stand and where you need to go. You can do this in between steps!
When you’re ready, take your first mission and give it a go!
What you’re looking for
…is that your dog is aware of you coming and going, but is less and less concerned about it by the end.
If you see signs of mild stress (eg., shadowing, pacing, panting, hyper-vigilance, minor whining) that gradually improve during the course of this one mission, you’re on the right track. If you see signs of moderate to severe (eg., barking, howling, drooling, urination/defecation, clawing at exit points, etc) stress, you should stop and reassess the level of difficulty. You will need to make it easier to suit your dog.
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