ACE Set Ups

09/02/2022

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ACE SET-UPS

ACE Free Work is an ideal context to help your dog become more comfortable around things that concern them, including objects, other dogs or people.

Make sure that your dog is familiar with Free Work. Teach them the Counting Game so you can invite engagement with you. If you are doing a set-up with another dog or a person, use a sliding line for safety.

Start by placing a reduced version of what they are concerned about in the Free Work. This could be a blanket with the scent of another dog, a stuffie or an article of human clothing. Reducing triggers to less intense versions allows you to introduce things more slowly. You can also introduce them to a harness, umbrella or muzzle in this way.

Watch your dog and see how they respond. You may see excessive interest, avoidance or your dog may not be bothered at all. If you see any signs of concern, remove the object or place it further away.

When your dog is comfortable you can begin to increase the intensity. This may mean moving the object or introducing a dog or person at a distance. If you are working with a helper dog, give them their own Free Work area so they have something to explore and investigate as well. This will prevent them staring at your dog, which could be alarming for dogs who struggle around others. It also prevents them from becoming worried by your dog.

Work with your dog at a suitable distance and allow them to explore at their own pace. Only stop them if they are getting too close or moving too quickly towards the other dog. You can use the Counting Game or stroke the line to encourage them to move away.

Working like this within Free Work allows your dog to experience their triggers safely and with choice in a familiar environment that they already enjoy. You may be surprised by how much progress you make.

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