I was working today with 3 lovely people and their beautiful Kelpie. A very nice girl that had no major problems, just a little leash pulling and over excitement really.?One of the ways that they were dealing with the problem of the dog interacting with strangers with too much excitement was to scold and correct with a correction collar.
First I would like to say that there is nothing wrong with this method at all, but I want to share with you what I saw and how that changed.
I am going to list the “components” of the event and show you how much can change with behaviour therapy, at least in my behaviour therapy.
Bec walked through the consult room, ignoring the dog.
The dog saw Bec as reward source and got out of the sit ran to Bec and jumped up on her.
The owner saw this as frustrating behaviour, perhaps a little embarrassed at the dogs naughtiness and corrected the dog and scolded it.
The dog again was reminded that the owner was there simply to rob the dog of rewards.
The dog sat down disappointed and the owner regained attention back on me and tried to get back into the flow of the information I was covering.
I noted the dog had basically interrupted the work and we all went off track for a moment with no winners in the end.
Not long after this I trained the dog in the Behavioural Interrupter. See this program here, it’s free!
Once I had only give the dog maybe four or five repetitions, I asked Bec again to walk through the training room and let’s see the difference.
Bec began her walk.
The dog focused on her again, it got up again.
I gave the cue, the dog focused on me, sat and got a reward.
The owners all smiled and Bec, who saw this dog 5 minutes before was also impressed.
I was pleased that the dog made a better choice.
The outcome was: –
The dog won, I won, the owners won, Bec won.
Everyone was pleased, we focused on the new behaviour and the effectiveness of the training already, no one disappointed, frustrated or jumped on.
Although in the second staged event, we had a dog, a distraction, an owner and a trainer, we ended up with a totally different outcome with less than 5 minutes of training. An outcome each party would happily want to repeat, that is the dog, the owners, me and the non jumped on Bec.
Many people see dog problems as something they don’t want to see, and become upset, frustrated and perhaps even angry when these behaviours present themselves. To get anywhere in terms of extinguishing these behaviours, you need to take a different stance. You want to see the behaviours, you want to be able to produce them so that you can deal with them.
You also need to look at the players in the game, if the owner comes out on top and there is nothing left in it for the dog, the dog won’t settle for that for long, if the program only suits the dog, the owners lose commitment fast too. If the trainer or behaviourist has a chosen method and they will only use that method, it may not suit the dog or the owner, and we are back to square one.
It is very common for people to suggest that complex behaviour problems cannot be cured, only managed. Well this is true when you don’t encompass all the elements and aim to make sure that all players come out thinking differently.
I was inspired to write this post as the three people that came today worked really well with their dog, appreciated her efforts and loved her for them.