Wait Your Turn: A FOMO Foundation Game

Dogs like us, dogs can experience frustration when they are not part of the action. This is commonly referred to as FOMO (fear of missing out).

Understanding FOMO in Dogs

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, can manifest in dogs in various ways. It's that uneasy feeling your dog might experience when they're not included in an exciting activity or sense something interesting is happening elsewhere. For some dogs, FOMO can lead to anxious behaviors like vocalizing or mild destruction.

The key to treating FOMO in dogs is to address it step by step, allowing your dog to build confidence and gradually overcome their frustration.

The Power of Stations

One fundamental element in helping dogs conquer FOMO is teaching them a solid station behavior. Stations are designated spots where your dog can rest or observe their surroundings.

This concept has several advantages:

  • Choice: Stations offer your dog a choice. If they start feeling overwhelmed or anxious, they can communicate this by moving off the station. This can be invaluable for understanding your dog's emotional state.

  • Eliminating Barrier Frustration: Stations eliminate barrier frustration, which can occur when a dog is confined or tethered and unable to join the action. Stations provide a sense of control for the dog and help alleviate this frustration.

  • Focus and Engagement: Stations give dogs something to do, which requires focus. This engagement is mentally stimulating and can help divert their attention from what's happening around them.

Simple FOMO Games

Once your dog has mastered the station behavior, you can start working on addressing their FOMO directly. This FOMO Foundation Game focuses on creating a positive experience for your dog, even when they're not in the center of attention.

Let's look at an example of how this game works:

In a video, I work with my two golden retrievers, Strive and Excel. Excel is first released from his station while Strive stays on her bed. I cue Excel with simple boring behaviors, and Strive is rewarded for staying on the cot.

When Strive is released, Excel finds it challenging to stay on the bed as he's eager to work with me. I go back to reward Excel for his choice to return to the bed on his own, reinforcing the importance of staying on the station.

FOMO is a real concern for many dogs and their owners, and it's essential to address it with a patient and systemic approach. FOMO games provide a practical and positive approach to help dogs overcome this frustration. By teaching your dogs a station behavior and gradually working through challenges, you can strengthen your bond with your dogs and help them alleviate some of the frustration they feel by being left out.

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