To the Dogs – 2

Tux After session 2…

Hi Tux –

Great seeing you again yesterday. I’m impressed with how quickly you take to your lessons. Small dog = big smarts – keep up the fine work! Here are a couple of thoughts to remind your mom…

Management is a huge part of the overall strategy for influencing your behavior. It’s WAY easier to prevent a problem (episode or habit) than it is to fix it after it’s happened. Crates and gates, gentle walking equipment, decisions about when and where to walk, getting cooperation from visitors, being assertive with passersby about greeting permission and rituals, putting food away, closing the toilet seat, limiting feline proximity while you’re working your Kong, all these and many more are major strategies make the training part easier. The goal is to set up the world so that the right thing to do is the easiest thing to do(as well as the tastiest and most fun), and the wrong things to do are inaccessible, and pointless when you do get to try them. Habits build around what’s possible as well as what’s reinforced.

For both of the new behavior games we learned, you did great.

For polite walking, remind mom to keep that rate of reinforcement high at first, and to keep practice sessions short and fun. Working indoors some, and then just close by the house outdoors for a while, will help you build the beginning of a habit before you get out where things are more distracting. A no pull harness or head halter might be an added help, especially at first. Your mom can play a counter-conditioning game to help you like the head halter better if it feels wierd, making it so you automatically get a great treat every time you see it, then for touching it, then for putting it on. For the actual game, in addition to getting treats for being in the right position, you’ll want to know that your mom’s arm is an emergency brake. Any tension on the leash causes her to stop moving so you cant get where you want to go. Keep things moving by keeping that leash loose. A well timed “oops” from mom might help to point out just where the mistakes happen. (Not to worry, there’s no shame in a mistake, just helpful information.)

With polite greetings – treats, petting and attention come to those with “4 on the floor.” A nice “sit” is even better! Challenging gravity makes good stuff go away, so stay low when you want to make a new friend, and keep the happiness flowing. Again, the gentle “oops” can make your learning curve easier to climb.

Alright, dude – that’s it for now. Remind your mom to enjoy being where she is and not to miss the journey for trying to be where she isn’t yet. Both of you can feel great just being as good as you are today. Tomorrow will be plenty soon enough to be as good as you’ll be by then. (Think about it!)

See you next week –


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