We are often told it’s important to teach our learners they have a choice in the training. They have a choice to engage, or leave.
If the choice is to leave it’s important for the handler not to take it personally, but, in my opinion it’s more important not to try to engage the learner.
If I’ve just received a ‘no’, or ‘not right now’, then what I try to do is observe for cues from the learner that they are engaging with me in some way.
Once I have those cues I can now teach the learner that they can cue me, that they are driving the training. They get to set the pace, the direction etc.
It’s a great way to activate the SEEKER system, to teach trust and to teach choices. Removal of choices can lead to conditioned suppression and learned helplessness. If we can teach choices, and trust of the teacher, then we can ensure the learner is feeling control and therefore is more likely to engage again.
Prepare the environment well and the learner will engage.