Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Timing is Everything

I already knew that you can change a dog's behavior for doing something wrong unless you caught them in the act. Dog only have two modes of thought NOW and BEFORE. Only the NOW matters to the dog, BEFORE is already long gone.

Babies and toddlers also function only in the NOW, but that will have to wait until another post.

What I am learning from the Dog Whisperer show is that if you want to stop your dog from doing something to need to discipline them when they are DECIDING to do the act, not during it and clearly not after the fact.

If you dog dumps your garbage can, and you point at the spilled garbage and say, "BAD DOG!" Your dog is only going to think that spilled garbage is named Bad Dog and thank you for introducing them. You have to interfere just as your dog is switching from normal, ordinary, cutting through the kitchen, 'just happy to be here' dog, to 'Hey there is something interesting here!' mode. Because dogs go from neutral, to interested, to action pretty quickly. You can short circuit this process at interested very easily, but not at decided and acting.

I will give you an example on my walks. If I spot Vector veering off toward the pile of deer bones, all I have to do is call her and she comes back to the path. If I miss the veer, and she is already picking out a treat, I have to walk up to her and make her, "SPIT THAT OUT!" Stopping her approach is a call, and "SPIT THAT OUT!" is a shout.

I had a friend trying to stop her dog from chasing deer with an electronic collar. I think that she failed because she was hit the zap after the chase had begun. You need to teach the dogs not to make the decision to chase, not to stop the chase. If you do the former, the dog won't start the bad behavior and you won't need the collar every time you walk your dog.

I am thinking this is going to be a very important when my kids become teenagers. If I only knew how to apply it to kids.

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