Today’s topic is: good behaviors don’t get attention the way bad behaviors do. So I’m thinking about this in terms of my dog training business. Virtually no one has ever contacted the dog training business that I’m aware of asking for help to improve any of their dog’s skills.
List of Issues
It’s interesting to me as I think about how I go about doing this. People are generally calling because they have a list of issues that they want help with, which is getting their attention and causing humans to have their emotions triggered. And then they begin to look for solutions. And, of course, if you’re reading this, I’m more than happy to help you sort out the issues you’re having with your dog.
I go about doing this with a dog by teaching the dog some new things that are likely to be solutions to the problems that the dog is already having. And so what are those things? Now I have come up with a reasonably short list. This list is not always everything we teach a dog, but it makes up the main things. The dog’s ability to stay where we want it to, walk nicely on a loose leash, comes when we call them, and appropriately use their mouth and paws when we play with them.
If you had a dog that does all of those things, man, it would solve a ton of issues. So their destructive behaviors do get our attention way more than good ones, but it’s the good ones that end up solving the problems more or less. And it’s fascinating that for those of you who are training with me or have trained with me or thinking about training with me, you’re going to notice one thing.
More Rewarding Than You Are
You’ll notice a big difference in general between the way that I treat your dog and the way that you treat your dog. Now, you probably really love your dog a lot more than I do, and we can’t take that for granted. But have you ever noticed that when I’m interacting with your dog, that I’m way more rewarding than you are? Now, I’m not saying that you don’t give your dog great things, but that might be the case. That you’re giving them something without them earning them.
So one of the things that happen is, when I’m training with a dog, I’m looking for those four things that we’re trying to train the dog to do. To stay, play, come, and heel. So when your dog is doing those four things. I want to get about the business of reinforcing them because that makes it so much easier for the dog to make the right choice. Sometimes, when we’ve stopped the wrong behaviors, we lose attention to the fact that we have a good one happening right there.
But it’s not screaming out to us for attention because it’s no longer bad, and we forget to reinforce. And that’s really what I’m saying. That for people that are training their dogs either with me or without. Are you training yourself to look for good behaviors? Are they going to get your attention way more than the unwanted ones?
Change in Your Dog’s Behavior
Because I would venture to say that if the things that you wanted the dog to do well were reinforced with the things that you knew that your dog loved the most, and you did that consistently and diligently for weeks on end, then there would be a pretty significant change in your dog’s behavior.
And so think about that as we work with our dogs this week, how can we do a better job of paying attention to those good behaviors? Those calm behaviors when the dog is doing exactly what we want and reward them in meaningful ways to help your dog become the best version of itself.