I love behavior – which is a good thing, considering I’m a certified dog trainer. I also enjoy observing the interactions – behaviors – not only between inquisitive canines, but other species as well.
Recently, I witnessed a conversation between a father and his young son – about 4 years old I’d guess – that could have been written for a behavior modification course. It was textbook! And, I have to say, it took much impulse control on my part to refrain from offering up training tips that might have helped him reach his goals. This is how it went.
- Father to son: “Hey, if you want to play, you can’t go past the yellow poles.” (Child had a toy car he was playing with.). Son immediately goes past the poles. “Hey, I said, you can’t go past the yellow poles if you want to play.” Again, son goes past the poles. All this time not making eye-contact with his dad.
- Father continues. “I told you, do not go past the poles! Cars are going past and you might get hit.” Sons ventures out, once again. This time the child heard, “Hey, you’re going to get hit if you stay out there – get behind the poles.”
Finally, after fourth round, the child sat down next to his dad. Father said: Nothing. (Was busy playing with his cell phone.)
To me, and probably many other certified dog trainers, animal trainers and parents of human children, we’re all thinking the same thing. If this were a dog training client of mine, these are a few things I would have suggested:
- Tell your animal what you want! As opposed to what you don’t want. Then he or she would know what the better choice is.
- When your dog does what you want – recognize it! Saying “thank you,” or “good boy!” And do so after they do what you asked.
- Consider the environment – hang out in areas where there’s enough room for an activity, with minimal risk of getting hurt or causing harm to someone else.
Setting your dog up for success – this goes for any person/animal – is key in getting behaviors that you want. With a little forethought and taking the “this is what I want you to do” approach, it can be simple enough to do.