Today’s topic is: You can’t have it, but I can get it for you. So I really do enjoy evaluating dogs in the consultations because it allows me to see another dog and see their manners and the way they behave, and the different ways they want to interact with me. Most dogs, when they see me, they rush up to me. Some dogs jump on me. Others begin to sniff my treats. Some dogs retreat in fear. It’s not because I’m a scary guy, but at least I’m scary to them in some sense. And dogs do a lot of different things.
What Motivates Them?
So in the evaluations, I’m trying to figure out who is this dog in front of me? What motivates them, and what do they like? What do they dislike? I’m trying to figure out all of those things. Once I get a little bit of a clue of what they like and what they think about me, at least initially. Then I teach them how to do the very simple task of learning how to stay in a place. You don’t have to make it complicated to teach your dog how to do that.
Essentially, the three things that I tell you when you’re going to teach a dog to stay in place are, one – that you should communicate to your dog, that it’s good for them to put all four paws on the bed. Two – that getting them to lay down on the bed is the single best thing. And then the third thing would be that coming off of the bed without permission won’t get them what they want and that we’re going to use a leash to put them back onto the bed.
If you do those three things under a variety of circumstances, then it’s a pretty good chance that your dog is going to learn how to stay on that particular bed.
So I want to add maybe a fourth statement to this today because I think this one is useful. Teach your dog that it’s good to get on. It’s great to lie down, and coming off doesn’t get you the reward, but we use the leash to put you back. So what’s this next statement?
You Can’t Have It
Well, it’s the title of today’s topic, and it is “you can’t have it, but I can get it for you.” So right after I reinforced the dog for getting on the bed and laying down and showing them how amazing it is, I will bait a dog with the food they told me that they love and that I was using to reward them with.
I’ll bait the dog with the food to come off the bed. I won’t say anything to them. I’ll drop the food maybe 18 inches, 2ft off the edge of the bed, and virtually every single dog will then come off the bed. And the moment that they step off of the bed, I use a leash and put them back on. Most dogs think that they wanted that, and they try again. And I use a leash, and I put them back.
I don’t move the food. I keep the food visible the entire time. And then, at some point, some dogs only need one repetition of me putting them back. Other dogs will need 27 repetitions of me putting them back. They stay on the bed. And at that moment that they remain on the bed, I do two things. I say “good dog” first, then give them the food. I’m trying to show the dog that if they cooperate with me, they can have a lot of the things that they want, but they have to cooperate with me. Because I can get the things they want that are beyond their reach, and we can work together.
I think this is essential to the dog because .. aren’t we trying to show them that they can cooperate with us? And that doing so actually leads to more of what they want. Because the dog will go after everything it wants. Well, it’s going to get itself into trouble eventually. But if it can team up with us, we can maybe access even more of the reward that the dog wants in a cooperative way instead of combative.
And, when it comes to obedience training, are we trying to dominate them? I hope it’s not what we’re trying to do. But are we trying to cooperate to improve our relationship with them and their relationship with us? I know that’s what I’m trying to do. And, yes, sometimes that stuff gets lost for whatever reason. But remember, you’re cooperating with an intelligent creature that can figure out what you’re doing, and the patterns you’re doing.
And if you can show them that if they work together with you, they will get more of the things that they want, then I think that we’re all going to be better off because of that.