Why You Should Study Pickpocketing

Today….. I told someone that they should get good at picking pockets.


That’s the kind of advice you get from me.

See……. We took their dog on an “Out & About” training session. It was on a busy walking trail in Amesbury, Mass. There were walkers. Bikes. Kids. Kids in strollers. And dogs……. Several dogs.

Dogs stopped on the side. Dogs walking past. Dogs behind a fence running next to the trail.

Yeah…… Difficulty Level: Legit.

And we talked about tons of interesting stuff on this walk.

– How to use “Negative” punishment instead of “Positive”.

– Leash grips and handling.

– Use of verbal markers, and bridging to help reduce frustration.

– When to practice character development, and when to use “Selective Attention” to your benefit.

– And finally…… How watching pickpockets can help your dog handling.

See, when I am handling dogs I act like everything is just hunky dory.

Yes, my dog is giving me shit as we pass you…. But I act so damn normal, that the other people don’t even notice. We went past one lady with two dogs and her dogs were lunging and barking. Not terrible….. But she was embarrassed. And, my dog was not being a little angle either. But…. We were handling it well, and, MORE IMPORTANTLY….. Acting like everything was smooth. She only noticed how “bad” her dogs were being and went away with the “I wish my dogs were as good as yours” feeling.

But, it goes way past just the “act like it’s cool and they’ll be less freaked out” thing.

It can effect the dogs!!!!!!

One of the plays I have when trying to build engagement in a dog is to “stalk” them. (Check out the “Aubry” video in “Learn Your Dog” post) Hell…. Sometimes…. I stalk the TOY!!!!

I throw it, and then stalk it like a cat. And almost without fail….. They will key in on the “victim” too!!!!

Just imagine how this works at the “target” coming up the trail. They see it, and then you “prepare”.

It just makes the more sure the thing IS the target!

The whole, “act like it’s cool” thing works on THEM too. You act like it’s cool hard enough….. And….. It MAY be.

I mean… Of course….. Prepare for the issues. Be skillful in your management. But….. BE COOL!!!!!

(anyone that’s been with me in a dog emergency has heard me say “Be cool” like a mantra to all involved)

And here’s where it gets a little technical.

Pickpockets use misdirection.

Like in the above selective attention test implies….. Give them something to focus on and they may miss the “gorilla” (spoiler alert).

This is when you see skillful trainers using misdirection. Usually, in the form of obedience. But, you gotta think about what your doing. If you ask the dog for most duration obedience it may be too hard for them. And it certainly isn’t MISdirecting them. But…. if you ask for engagement….. THAT is misdirection. Positional changes. Follow me. Watch me. Etc…. That give literally steal their focus.

Of course…. That’s management. Not teaching them HOW to make good decisions regarding the “trigger”. But…. we gotta get them back to the car with as little conflict as possible.

Anyway….. Watch this video and use your imagination as to how it may apply to managing a dog past a threshold moment!




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