Losing Your Audience

I enjoy reading nonfiction and watching documentaries. But there are some books and videos I will avoid watching or stop watching, they are too upsetting to me. It won’t matter how important someone tells me the information I’d be gaining is or how artfully it is presented. There are award-winning films I have not watched because I know how they end; me feeling bad. Berate me all you like for sticking my head in the sand when I choose Glee over Blackfish, I’m still not watching it (read Death At SeaWorld, I get the picture).

pointy-eared dog looking down

“Were you saying something?”

When we lose our audience we effectively end the conversation. I’m not suggesting that people stop writing well-researched works of nonfiction or producing documentaries featuring behind-the-scenes information most of us are unaware of. I just can’t promise that I’ll want to read or see it.

If I am trying to teach a dog to do something I always consider whether or not they are willing to remain engaged in the conversation. They respond to my behavior with their behavior. For the most part dogs are pretty easy to wow with my conversational prowess, especially when the conversation includes food and play. When I do lose them it’s often because I’ve bored them or have made it an unpleasant enough exchange that they choose to opt out.

Good performers play to their audience and fearful dogs can be a tough one.



4 comments so far

  1. Kay Liestman on

    Right on, Debbie! We have worked with our ACD Mattie for years to attend to us and not the scary things that are close. When we took a “Control Unleashed” class at our preferred training center last spring, Mattie was the star of the class in attending. She always focused on us whenever it was her turn and she still does. We’re doing Therapeutic Agility now and she still attends. You are a large part of helping us know what to do. Thank you from us and Mattie.

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      Thanks so much Kay, it’s always nice to hear that all the time and energy you put in paying off for both of you. What’s therapeutic agility?

      • Kay Liestman on

        It’s agility for fearful/reactive dogs. There is one other dog in Mattie’s class and she reacts to dogs, Mattie reacts to people. One dog is in the ring at a time and then we switch, moving counter-clockwise so the dogs don’t get over thresh-hold. Michelle Godlevski, the trainer, stays out of the ring when Mattie is in and calls out directions. Michelle has also started the Valor League, where reactive dogs can compete in agility via video. Mattie loves it! We really don’t care about the competition, but the joy on her face is worth all the effort it took to get here.

      • Debbie Jacobs on

        Great opportunity to have.

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