Contrast: The Secret to Changing Behaviors Effectively – Pt. 1

At any given time in a dog’s life there exists a readiness to be influenced by the environment. The dog’s senses are designed to monitor every waking moment for changes or anomalies. This means more than you think. It is not simply novelty that triggers focus. It is more than that. Any deviation at all is noticed. Deviation itself creates novelty. That can include the absence of some normally occurring thing, an odd combination of objects or sequences that are individually long-standing associations.
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Do you give what the dog needs, or only what you like to do?

It is easy to get comfortable with specific practices and expectations. The more we refine our methods the more likely we are to unintentionally offer a cookie-cutter approach – because of our past successes. Those accomplishments positively reinforce specific courses of action that generally lead to beneficial outcomes. However, our choice of tools may be the result of something else…our own comfort. In the majority of cases that isn’t a problem. When a dog doesn’t fit the mold, doing what comes naturally may not be the best solution. The biggest casualty of such complaisance is the dog sitting right in front of us. If we fail to examine a dog’s needs as an individual we may well go astray and give them, not what they need, but what we choose to give them. Continue reading

Let Biting Dogs Lie: Fix ‘em or forget ‘em.

My best friend recently put down his 3-year-old Rottweiler, Zeus. He had a very aggressive cancer. I trained him when he was 12 weeks old and he was part of my extended family. When the diagnosis was confirmed, it was a slam dunk decision to give him his last few weeks of life based on quality and then end it before he suffered. This loving and thoughtful decision points out a glitch in our cultural perceptions. While ending a life to prevent pain and suffering seems to be the logical choice in all cases, what would you do if the problem was behavioral and not medical?
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