Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The easiest way to change your dog's behavior EVER.

As a trainer, sometimes I feel like I could write pages and pages of recommendations for my clients about what I think they should do with their dogs.  First of all, I don't have the time for that.  Second of all, I may think I know best, but ultimately, their relationship and lifestyle they share with their dog is their own.  What I think interpret as a priority may not be, and what I think is doable on a daily basis may be way out of the question in reality.  So, shocker of all shockers, I don't write a mini-novel for each client, fortunately for them.  I have to edit myself.  And when I do that well, the results are that much more positive.

I just watched a webinar by certified applied animal behaviorist Suzanne Hetts.  One of the things she recommended was so dang simple yet brilliant.  A prescription for success in one short recommendation that basically empowers dog owners to create their own programs that fit their lives perfectly.  Here it is:

Pick three behaviors that your dog already performs that you like.  Reward your dog for those behaviors ten times a day.  

Basically, she's just put all us professionals out of business if people learn how to really harness this advice.  It addresses so many rules of thumb that we hold so sacred, like:

  • Train your dog to DO things, not to NOT DO things.  Think in terms of what you do want your dog to do instead of what you want him to not do.  It's almost impossible to train the absence of a behavior without traumatizing your dog into avoiding a whole group of behaviors, including trusting you.
  • Behavior that is rewarded will be repeated
  • Communicate with your dog.  Observe what she is doing and tell her what you think of it by giving clear feedback - effectively in the form of anything she likes, like food, play, etc.

So make your own training curriculum, and switch it up every day.  It won't take long before you're noticing a marked improvement in your dog's behavior.  This is so important and frighteningly simple, I wish every dog owner would do it.

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