Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"How Important is it to You?"

In basic training classes, this is one of the questions I ask about each of the problem areas.

Example 1: 
Client: My dog jumps on me every time  I step over the gate into that part of the house! But he doesn't jump up on my husband!
Me: How important is it to you that the behavior stops?
Client:  I don't mind it, it's great.
Me: If you don't mind it, we are not going to address it. But think through this!

Example 2:
Client: My dog digs in the yard!
Me: How important is it to you that the digging stops?
Client: SO SO important! He's ruining my yard!!
Me: For two weeks we need to completely eliminate any chance of practicing the behavior while we do re training.  Your dog will be on leash in the yard or completely engaged in an activity such as training or fetch games, as well as
Client: I can't do that! I have to put him out to go to the bathroom. I'm not taking him out on leash.
Me: How important is it to you that the digging stops?
Client: It HAS to stop.
Me: It's up to you. If you want it to stop, we can't let him have fun and practice the digging.  If you want to let him out alone, he may dig for fun or for something to do. Every time he does it, he gets better at it and the behavior is harder to change. It's your choice. If you want it to stop, you know the start to plan.

Example 3: 
Client: We need to train leave it! My puppy gets into the trash!
Me: Theoretically we can train that.  Due to safety though, it's best to put the trash in a contained area or get a tightly sealed trash can.  What if your dog ever makes a mistake and eats something dangerous. could spend a long time on that training, or use that time teaching something else.   Your choice.
Client: That's what I was thinking.

It's always interesting to see what is important.  In my household, it's not important that my dog is quiet when someone knocks at the door. We don't have a lot of visitors and we don't have nearby neighbors.  I don't mind my dogs going out the door without a release.  But I do want nice walking in public, I do want my dogs lying on the floor while I eat, and I do want them to focus when asked.

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