Most of you reading this are probably interested in changing some aspect of your dog’s behavior. In a society where the expectation of instant gratification is commonplace, we tend to look for the “quickest” route to the result we want, typically considering the present impact more than the future impact. The reality is changing behavior (human and canine) is not typically instantaneous….If it were we would have run out of New Years resolutions long ago instead of often having the same ones every year! Change is work. Change can be hard and feel uncomfortable in the beginning stages. So why do we want change? Maybe you would like your dog (we’ll call him Fido) to stop jumping on and/or accosting every visitor. Or to stop chewing your shoes. How about ending the constant tension on the leash when you TRY to go on a walk together? Perhaps it would be nice if Fido would come running to you when you called him. Maybe you would prefer that Fido NOT bark at every person and/or dog and/or squirrel and/or cat he sees. In any of these examples and countless others, there is one very important factor…if we want Fido to change, WE have to change. YES, you read that correctly, if we want Fido to change, WE have to change too!
Obviously, what we are doing currently to address Fido’s behavior isn’t working or we wouldn’t want to change it. The big lesson here is that in order to change Fido’s behavior, not only do we have to change OUR behavior, but we also have to learn and experience a NEW way to get the behavior we ultimately want.
We have all heard, and probably said, “I tried it (a different or new way) a few times and it didn’t work”. Somehow as we have matured into adults, we have forgotten the process of learning. As children we accepted the challenge of doing something until we got better at it or even awesome at it. If we wanted to go to the pool in the summer, we had to learn to swim….most of us didn’t just get in the water and take to it like fish, right? But, we REALLY wanted to learn how to swim because there would be so many fun activities related to knowing how to swim….vacations at the beach, going to the pool with friends, etc. We were fully VESTED in doing what it took to do something that was initially challenging and required lots of practice……because the juice was worth the squeeze!
So back to dog training….Try picking ONE very specific behavior for you AND your dog to change. Make sure it is the one you care the most about, that you are excited about changing. This will get you through the tough, uncomfortable moments when it would be easier to go back to the “old way” or just give up. Think about how you can incorporate this change as part of your normal routine and interactions with your dog. Once you have decided on the behavior you want to change, please join us at Happy K9 Campus to learn how to make that change a reality!
I discovered a fabulous quote in a recent Podcast that is very appropriate for this topic, “Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in muscle”. I interpret this to mean we must apply our knowledge repeatedly until it becomes an “automatic” or subconscious action. This happens over time with purposeful planned repetition. Happy Training!
Stay tuned for more Happy Woofs from the K9 Professor.