"What you pet is what you get"

One of many things we keep seeing over and over with clients is that they constantly want to be touching/petting their dogs, which is reinforcing their dogs' behavior. We're not saying you cannot pet/stimulate your dog, but balance out the discipline VS affection scale, ESPECIALLY at the beginning of training. What you pet is what you get. For example, you take your dog for a walk and you stop at the stop light to cross the street, and your dog gives you a polite auto-sit, you tell him "good boy, good job, pet your dog, give him eye contact or you maybe even give your dog a cookie, All of these are stimulus for your dog. As long as you're seeing good behaviors and your dog is doing something good that you want and they are in a good state of mind, that's fine.  The problem is..sometimes people will extend or overly praise the dog in the wrong context. There are times when you don't want to be praising/stimulating your dog and you don't want them to think the state of mind they are in is correct. For example, let's say you're walking your dog, you cross path with another person with their dog and your dog starts barking at them. In the moment you say "no, no, stop barking, quiet Fido etc" and you are holding your dog back or trying to 'redirect' your dog with a treat etc etc..In that context, what you are doing is rewarding your dog for acting like jerk or for giving you an unwanted behavior. When you think you are soothing your dog by making physical touch or saying "it's okay", even if you mean well,  it's not okay. What you thought you were telling your dog is actually the opposite. Most people reinforce the bad behavior, because they just don't know. No one told them what to truly look for. The great thing is that Humans create unwanted behaviors, so therefor humans can also fix the behavior.
Dogs don't understand the intentions behind our words, they don't know what words mean unless we TRAIN THEM and put a meaning behind those words. Does it make sense?  So when you pet your dogs...ask yourself "ARE YOU HELPING OR ARE YOU HURTING?"

Working Dog Kyra
Lise LoComment