Familiar patterns give both us and our dogs a structure to return to when faced with a challenge or distraction. They are simple behaviours we can learn and then default to when we need them.

They all involve some movement, which is often easier for dogs than staying still. They give us something simple and familiar to do; a structure that is safe and known.

Pattern games bring the security of a known sequence into situations where your dog may be concerned or distracted. Dogs become calmer as they engage in the familiar structure.

These patterns can get us out of trouble, allowing us to walk past other dogs, or to wait calmly while other dogs pass us.

Another benefit is that doing something easy, familiar and fun can help dogs feel better about the trigger, as they’re having a good time. 

The best thing? The exercises are really simple! Don’t worry too much about perfection, just repeat a simple sequence and try to be consistent.

There’s a pattern game for when we need to stand still to let a distraction pass us, and another for when we need to pass a distraction – plus an emergency ninja move to get you out of there fast. So let’s have a look…