Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Every dog is different

I work with so many different dogs every day at the shelter but I also work my own dogs every day and I have to keep reminding myself that whether it is the same dog or a different dog- that each day is different as well. I am coming to understand more and more that dogs gravitate towards the reinforcement. What a powerful concept- think about it -WE are the REINFORCER -meaning that we have what they want and therefore they will gravitate to us! Find out what reinforces your dog and use it to your advantage. We know food is a big reinforce for dogs because they have to eat to survive. But dogs are individuals and we need to find what the right food is for our own individual dogs. Work to eat programs are great. Dogs love to work for their food- so stop feeding out of a bowl and start making them work for their food. Do training at home with their dry food- but when you are out in the real world with your dog use some higher value food to compete with all those distractions out there- for my two dogs I use chicken and meatballs do help them gravitate towards me. You can also use toys for motivators IF a toy motivates your dog- It is only a reinforcer if it motivates your dog- Just like money is a motivator for us because it buys us food, pays our rent etc.. but if one day the government says the green money no longer will buy you food it will then stop being a reinforcer for us. Understanding what motivates our dog will help us get the behaviors that we want. It really can be as simple as that- if we have what the dog wants they will pay more attention to us and do what we ask but only if we have what they want. So figure out what motivates your dog and before you give it to them have them ask for a behavior and when they give you the behavior that you want then you give them what they want. Dogs have to trust you as well and they have to have a good working relationship with you built on trust. If you hurt them or yell at them they will tend to avoid you or shut down. Dogs gravitate towards the reinforcer and avoid pain and conflict. Dogs learn what is safe and what is dangerous and they are genetically programmed to avoid dangerous situations! Keep this in mind when interacting with them and when training them!