Swagger “working it” with his toy while I pound away at my computer today.

There have been some great reports written on my last blogpost after the last newsletter. I am happy to see so many of you are starting to exam the triggers your dogs have have that prompt responses from you. I just want this to be clear;

Susan Garrett’s dogs do posses triggers that will prompt her behaviour.

My dogs attempt to trigger many responses from me on an ongoing basis. The ones that work they will keep the ones that don’t work will fade away. The lack of reinforcement will cause the dog to stop trying.  There are some triggers that I do like to see and those will be reinforced! The point I was getting at in my recent newsletter and last blog is that you should become aware of those triggers and be selective about the ones you will keep.

For example we have two water bowls in our house. Swagger, my youngster only likes to drink from one of them. So when that one happens to be empty he will put his paw in it and drag it around the kitchen. Someone will get up and fill it for him. I am happy that he will let me know when the bowl is empty, that is a trigger that I will keep responding to with him.

On the other hand he also likes to take toys and place them on my lap, at first I would just put the toy back on the floor, but I quickly realized that game was still good for Swagger as the “dropping the toy in my lap behaviour” got stronger. Once I recognized what was happening I started to take the toy and place it on my desk, ending the possibility of reinforcement for Swagger. Now rather than giving up the toy to me Swagger will sit very near by holding it in his mouth giving me various looks and poses. Often the cuteness of what he is doing will get me and I will laugh and stop my work to play with him. Yes this trigger does live on but it is one I can ignore much easier than the toy in my lap. Sometimes you just have to enjoy the creativity of “naughty.” Provided you keep a handle on it and you know what is happening and you balance it with what you want all is good.

The science of dog training is important, I never allow that to be far from my mind but please don’t allow the science of “why” take away all of the joy you have when you train and live with your dog. Being aware of what is going on is the first step, then gradually replace those you don’t like with those you do. I can’t tell you how many times a day I laugh out loud because of something one of my dogs do, please don’t ever lose that.

Tomorrow’s newsletter is going to focus on you building in positive triggers of your own (turning the tables on these clever dogs:)).

Today I am grateful for every dog that ever cracked me up.