Dogs Don’t Understand “DON’T!”
Dogs don’t understand “Don’t” because don’t is a human concept. A more successful approach, one that is not conceptual but absolute, would be from a place of “DO”! DO, is teaching our dogs what it is that we want them to DO, instead of focusing on what we “don’t”. Rather than putting energy into coming up with strategies to stop our dogs from doing an undesired behavior, let’s teach our dogs in layers of learning to build a solid foundation of reinforcement for behaviors that we DO want to see. In doing so, we help our dogs to find joy in the things that we want them to do and we create a dog that on their own, will CHOOSE to do what we desire. There’s no force, blame, correction or punishment. There’s just joy.
Shift Your Paradigm
Whether you are just starting out on your journey with a dog or have one that you’d like to teach differently, the goal of creating high value for what it is that we do want, rather than coming up with exhausting ways to stop a behavior we don’t want, can seem impossible to grasp and put into practice. When looking at the behaviors you want to change, try shifting your paradigm.
We humans, put a lot of limitations on all that is possible with our words. Instead of saying, “How can I get my dog to stop doing x, y, or z?”, we can ask, “What can I teach my dog to help build more value for the behaviors I want my dog to do?” A question like, “Why is this dog so stubborn and willful?”, could look like this instead- “What are the things that I really love about this dog?”
Be willing to step out of your comfort zone. The old adage, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten” is true. As world renowned trainer, Bob Bailey says… ‘Dog training is knowing what you
want’. Recognize what behavior you want to change (sooner rather than later). Then ask yourself what you REALLY want your dog to DO instead. Devise a plan to get you from point A to point B effectively and in a positive reinforcing way for both you and your dog. Remember that Reinforcement Builds Behavior!
If dog training in this fashion is new to you, it can seem to take a lot of planning and work initially but how much and for how long do you want to keep managing undesired behaviors? Be kind and patient with yourself and your dog while you’re
learning. Once you get the idea of how to DO things, it won’t take you long at all! Not to mention your relationship with your dog will improve exponentially and there’s nothing like it! This is a topic I have long been wanting to talk about and is the first in upcoming articles.
Leave me a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you
would like your dog to “DO”!
Robin Morgan CPDT