In this session we will use the ODE protocol to help our dog build their skills for ignoring distractions / “triggers” (people / dogs / movement / sound). We will also discuss how and when to implement the final steps of the protocol (i.e. adding in reinforced alternative behaviors, and increasing arousal up to optimal levels for work without our dog reverting to focusing on the stimulus/trigger).
The working spots in this session are perfectly suited to any team that has started working with the ODE protocol previously. There is no requirement to have achieved a certain skill level though, just some previous practice of step 1 or above.
About Offered Durational Engagement (ODE)
When our dog perceives a stimulus that interests or concerns them, a portion of their attention shifts to that stimulus. At this point we may only see evidence of “split focus” (i.e. glancing away from us and the task, responding more slowly to our cues, missing cues, performing an “incorrect” behavior, etc.), or our dog may perform a large reaction that we perceive as inappropriate or extreme (e.g. lunging, barking, whining, squealing, leaping, leaving us and rushing to the stimulus, attempts to run away, unable to respond to our cues in the presence of the stimulus, etc.).
Our dog’s response to the stimulus may be driven by emotion (e.g. fear, excitement, frustration, etc.), it may be driven by instinct (e.g. prey drive, etc.), or it may occur due to prior learning (i.e. expectation of a specific outcome, or a previously formed habit).
Offered Durational Engagement (ODE) is a simple pattern that forms the foundations for a 10-step protocol. For dogs responding due to emotions, the protocol helps to reduce the intensity of their feelings and hence their response. For dogs responding due to instinct or habit, the protocol helps our dog to find time to think between the stimulus and their response, so instead of going from stimulus to the existing automatic response, our dog is able to think before responding. This allows them to choose an alternative behavior to the existing inappropriate or extreme response. We can then ensure that our dog perceives the new response as more rewarding than the original response.
ODE is useful as both a behavior modification protocol for reactivity, as well a protocol for helping our competition dogs build their skills for comfortably ignoring and dismissing people / dogs / movement / sounds in the competition environment.