John walking with the girls but who are the girls walking with? Where are you mom?

While many of you are putting your life with your dogs under a microscope after my last two newsletters, I fear some of you may be drawing the wrong conclusions. As you observe your dogs’ source of reinforcement and joy you are observing that perhaps your spouses seem to be more reinforcing to your dogs then you might be. That the dog seems to jump around, be more active or “joyous” then they are working with you.

I would caution you all to not try to think you know “WHY” your partners appear to be more fun than you. Some of you have written the conclusion that it is because your spouse has “no rules.” This is something old time obedience trainers would preach as well “We have to be so tough on them in the ring we need to give them their head a bit and spoil them at home so thy have more drive”  I was told when I first started training in obedience.

Let me assure you in the Garrett-Blenkey household that is not the case. John has few rules for the dogs, none that get enforced consistently:). On top of that he is feeds them all of their meals every day and still my dogs have only eyes for me.

I think it is great idea to try to “borrow some of your partners joy”. Keep studying those relationships and see what they are doing that you are not. See what the dogs respond to while around them. I can assure you it isn’t the “lack of rules” that is creating what they have together. It all comes back to reinforcement. Even though John feeds my dogs almost all of their meals PLUS he is the only one in the house that gives “cookies-for-nothin'” (every morning @ 10 AM all of the dogs get a cookie whether they need it or not:)) for some reason my dogs see me, who has and does enforce plenty of “rules” as more of a source or reinforcement in their lives!

Hmmmmm. Why do you suppose that is?  Leave your thoughts, I have my own I will be sharing later. I love that you are studying this and trying to get more joy in to your relationship with your dogs but please, just recognize as Bob Bailey reminds us, remember that training is knowing; what you have, what you want and creating a plan to get there! Try not to get to wrapped up on the “why” because at the end of the day none of us will really ever know will we?

I will give you a little hint here. If you take a look at this older video clip of me imitating people who lack control with their dogs in an aroused state. They try to get that control by shouting or hitting which creates even more arousal in the dog. In this demo (or with these real life dogs) is it the lack of rules that makes Buzzy/other dogs higher and higher or my response to his “lack of desired response”?


Today I am grateful for Roz. Roz was our bookkeeper who had to move back to Newfoundland a few months ago. Last year at this time, Roz had the foresight to build me a “template” of a financial report I have to file with the government every year. My brother receives a disability pension I am in charge of filing all of the paperwork each year. Let me just say financial reports are not my strength . . . accounting reports and I should never be in the same room together. Actually in 1982 I was on the verge of failing an accounting course in University which I needed for a Business minor. My professor made a “deal” with me, he told me he would give me a passing grade if I promised never took another course with him again:). See I even scarred him for life. Accounting is my kryptonite for certain. Thank you Roz, you turned what would have taken me days into a 2 hour job!