Dogs that “DO!”
Last month I wrote about ‘Dogs Don’t Understand Don’t’. This month is about changing your mindset about Science Based, Reward/Choice training for your dog.
Is there a dog training frustration you would love to change? Something that you think your dog will never “get”? Please consider what it would look like if you could change your mindset and turn any annoyance or frustration for you and your dog around.
I’ve been training dogs for many, many years now. Not just my own but others too, as well as their humans. Some have become fabulous trainers but…fabulous dog training starts with that “Mindset” change!
Punishment, Blame and Judgement
Here’s what it traditionally looks like when we first learn to train a dog. We take a magnifying glass and look at our dog and the outcome of our training. That training, isn’t what we want. Our dog is still jumping on people, counter surfing, ignoring us when we call, etc. and being ‘disobedient’ despite being corrected by us over and over.
And…traditionally, our dog gets all the blame for the outcome. Not to mention the labeling of being a ‘bad’ or ‘stupid’ dog.
When we look at our dog and the outcome of our training isn’t what we expected, our reaction usually goes straight to PB&J (Punishment, Blame & Judgement). Because it wasn’t US who destroyed the furniture or got into garbage, chased the squirrel, etc., it was our dog.
We judge our dog because we’ve put all that time and energy into training and the outcome wasn’t at all what we expected. We gave our dog rules and he is not following them! There is obviously something wrong with the dog!
What if, instead of looking at our dog through a magnifying glass and blaming our dog and/or the training that didn’t work, we looked at things differently? We could look at what we could DO to motivate our dog to get the desired response. What if we could consider looking at our dog’s behavior to see when it started falling short of our expectations? It’s usually much earlier than we realize and before we become frustrated and impatient.
How much reinforcement did we put into the outcome that we want? And if the outcome isn’t what we want, where was the reinforcement coming from? Reinforcements are more than just our praise, a cookie or a toy. Reinforcement is the chance to chase a squirrel or jump up on the counter. It takes many forms for the dog.
All this time, we thought we were training a dog but in fact, the lessons were coming to us from that dog. Are we paying attention to those lessons? One of the biggest lessons is that we can’t control any other living being in our life but we can control our responses. We can also control how we motivate and how we reinforce or allow reinforcement to happen.
There are clear strategic layers to get you the outcome you want but you’ve got to be willing to consider a change in mindset on how to train dogs!
To Be Continued…
Leave me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how your dog training is going 😊
Robin Morgan CPDT