Learning Life Skills.

Drifter did not arrive with an inbuilt set of rules about how to behave in the world. Life must have been confusing at times as he has developed and his interest has grown in different aspects of the world that surrounds him. Finding positive ways for him to learn not only makes learning life skills fun but also builds our relationship with him.

The aim is to encourage good behaviour and prevent bad behaviours by not placing him in situations where the temptation to sin is too great. We have always been looking at introducing Drifter to situations where he naturally adopts the behaviours we find acceptable and rewarding him for this. What is more difficult is not placing him in situations where we can be setting him up to fail. This can be leaving stuff around we do not want him to touch or putting him in situations where he shows behaviours that we would not want to encourage him to show as an adult. We seem to spend our lives thinking ahead and anticipating what Drifter will do when faced with the day to day experiences of life.

Not exposing him to situations where he can sin is great in theory. We could achieve this if we could totally focus on him for every waking minute of the day, but in practice this is not possible, and sometimes we will fail to meet the ideal.

Besides all the positive reward based sounds he hears from us, and not lets not forget he only understands the sounds and builds an association to these. The sound and tone of good boy means we are happy with him and a stroke or treat is around the corner which encourages him to repeat the behaviour.

He also needs to understand that some of his intentions or behaviours are unacceptable or potentially down right dangerous. I suppose you could say we have failed in some way in that he has found himself in this situation, but this will happen in life as he learns about the world.

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Drifter has learnt three tones that help him to understand that either his intention or behaviour is unacceptable. These are used when we either anticipate, observe, or want him to change his behaviour. These tones are delivered quietly, we do not need to shout he has exceptionally good hearing! Our tones are (“ah”) used when we anticipate his intention to do something that we want to discourage or is unacceptable, (“leave it”) he has something we do not want him to have or he intends picking something up that is unacceptable or potentially dangerous, (“that’ll do”) This is his off switch yes he has an off switch that we use after play or other exciting times.

These tones are followed by praise/reward when he looks towards us or he receives something that is acceptable to play with.

If we are on the beach we do not always want him to run off to other dogs or people. If he looks up at approaching people or dogs a quick “ah” focuses his attention on us and we can then either give him permission to go over or distract him to play with us.

He is learning very quickly what is acceptable and what is not but every event has a positive outcome and learning is always fun, even when we get it wrong!

Drifter’s favourite toy is a empty milk container which he pushes and chases around the grass. Looking out the window I can see it is play time!

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