Ignoring food, toys, and interesting smells in the training and competition space

Sunday, Oct. 8

9:00AM - 10:40AM

Experience Level: All

Interesting smells, dropped food crumbs, open treat containers, and toys — these can all be very challenging for our dog to ignore.

We can try to block our dog’s access to these items, or we can use a cue to call our dog back to work, but wouldn’t it be better if our dog just continued to work in the presence of open treat containers, dropped food, interesting smells, and toys on the ground?

In this session we outline a systematic approach that will have your dog heeling past an open treat container or favorite toy in no time.

The key to success is helping our dog to make a choice to ignore these items. When our dog DECIDES to ignore something, the outcome is very different to when we ASK them to ignore something. This is because choosing to ignore an item is empowering and allows their full mental focus to be shifted elsewhere, whereas being asked to ignore something may result in our dog’s visual focus returning to us and the task, but there may still be conflicting emotions and split focus/attention within the processing in the brain.

In this session we outline the steps needed to have our dog choose to ignore interesting smells, food, and toys whilst working.

Working spots: There are no pre-requisite skills for working participants, but having an established loose leash walking or heeling behavior will be beneficial.

NOTE: The contents of this session is targeted towards dogs that compete (in-person or virtual) and/or dogs that participate in training sessions/classes. This is not a protocol aimed at teaching dogs to ignore dropped food whilst out on a sniffy walks or when on “free time” in their yard at home.

Presenter Bio

Sharon Carroll

Sharon (she/her) has been a professional animal trainer for over 30 years. She has been both a presenter and trainer in a range of animal shows, and currently operates a dog training and behaviour consulting business based in Newcastle, Australia.

Intent on really understanding animals better, Sharon completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Equine), a Graduate Diploma (Captive Vertebrate Management – wildlife and exotics) and a Master of Animal Science. Sharon is currently completing a PhD in Veterinary Pharmacology.

Sharon is a fully certified behaviour consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) in both dogs (CDBC) and horses (CHBC), and is a certified professional dog trainer – CPDT-KA.

Sharon guest lectures to post graduate veterinarians and behaviourists at several universities and organisations on the topics of animal behaviour, training, species-specific cognition, welfare, and psychological trauma in animals.

Sharon is an FDSA faculty member routinely presenting in the behaviour division. Many of Sharon’s classes, webinars, and workshops focus on working with dogs that perceive and process information in a slightly different way to a “typical” dog and hence may require a slightly different approach in order to be successful.

Beyond her knowledge of animal learning, Sharon is a sought-after coach and mentor for competitors in a variety of sports. Sharon had a successful career riding and coaching through to the highest levels of both eventing and dressage (Grand Prix). She has been an Australian representative rider, and in 2013 acquired her EA Level 3 specialist coaching certificate (qualified to coach through to Olympic level). Sharon has coached several International teams and countless individuals to winning performances. She is consistently effective at improving performances, not only for elite level competitors, but for anyone looking to improve the quality or level of their performance.

Sharon currently competes in several dog sports with her three standard poodles Jericho, Vincent, and Kane.