Stationing is about calming the mind with structure. Control Unleashed is about keeping the mind calm through predictable sequences and conversational training. The two tools work well together!
Reinforcement drives behavior, sure, but emotions drive reinforcement. We want to help our dogs remain in control of their emotions. The CU patterns introduced by Leslie McDevitt invite our dogs to report to us about what concerns them in the environment. CU games are well thought through and full of choice for our dogs. The games are designed to let our dogs ask for the next piece of the pattern when they’re ready. Stations help with that, especially when the environment is big or complex. Stations also help us keep clean movement cycles in our training, so each piece ends in position to start the next piece. Stations give our CU dogs more ways to understand us and communicate with us.
The station is a safety zone where the human keeps the world away. It’s home base. It’s also a touchstone, a well-defined place that the dog can use to opt in for the next thing, or opt out, depending on the activity. Different stations can cue different actions and each station will have emotional significance for the dog. If we do it right, bringing a station to an environment will help our dog feel optimistic about what will happen there. The station supports the CU patterns in every way.
In this presentation we’ll look at some CU games and how they can benefit from stations. We’ll look at stationing as a behavior initiated by the dog in order to tell us about their feelings. To use stations in that way we must teach stationing through a Dog’s Choice approach. It’s not difficult, but it’s different! Your dog’s love and trust for stationing will open up another layer of communication in your CU practice.