A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the common challenge many have with dogs jumping up on people, and suggested that the best thing that you can do with any struggle is to think about what you want your dog to “do”, and train that.
We all have struggles with our dogs, and it is the decisions we make in the midst of these struggles which define the future for our dogs. Is your chosen solution to today’s challenges cultivating even more problems tomorrow or creating easier solutions to future challenges?
It isn’t the challenges that we face in our dog training that makes us different from one another. It’s our responses to those challenges. In my training, I am always looking to create a rich reinforcement history for what it is I want my dog to DO.
The Road to Do-Land
Dogs don’t understand don’t because don’t is a concept. A more successful approach, one that is not conceptual but rather absolute, is to approach your dog training challenges from the land of “DO” …. and that’s my trigger to segue to what this blog post is about … “Do-Land”.
“Do–Land” is a term coined by one of my online students many years ago. The “what do you want your dog to do?” question is one I’ve been asking people for a long time! Do-Land is the place where we teach our dogs what it is we want them to DO, instead of focusing on the “don’t”.
Rather than putting all of our energy into continually coming up with strategies to stop our dogs from doing something (resulting in frustration for our dog and us), we train our dogs in strategic layers to build a strong foundation and create an abundant reinforcement history for behaviours that we want to see.
In Do-Land, we help the dogs to find joy in the things that we want them to do and what we do is we create a dog that on their own will choose to do what we want. There’s no force, there’s no yelling, there’s no correction, there’s no blame. There’s just joy.
I know that if you are just starting out on the road to Do-Land the goal of creating unbelievably immense value for what it is we do want, rather than coming up with endless ways to stop what we don’t want, can be hard to grasp and put into practice.
When looking at your challenges, try reframing. We as humans constantly put limits on all that is possible with our language. Instead of saying things like “How can I stop my stop doing x, y, or z?” we can ask “What can I do to help build more value for what I want my dog to do?”. A query like “Why can’t he be more like my last dog?” could become “What are 5 things that I really love about this dog?”.
You can make huge strides going forward by just reframing the questions you ask of yourself.
Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. The old adage “if you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got” is true. Or another way to put it. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome.
I love this quick and simple Bob Bailey formula for success… ‘Dog training is knowing what you want’. Recognize what challenge you want to overcome (as early as possible). Ask yourself the better question about what you want your dog to do. You need your brain to decide it r-e-a-l-l-y wants to have success! Now devise a plan to get you from point A to point B as efficiently and effectively as possible. Remember that reinforcement builds behaviour.
Getting on the road to Do-Land can take some lateral thinking. If it is new for you, it can seem to take some work and planning initially. When we are learning we need to be as patient with ourselves as we would like to be with our dogs. But absolutely, once you get the handle of how to DO things, it shouldn’t take you longer to train a dog.
And I think the relationship that you develop with the dog is second to none.
If this is all new to you, then I would suggest Crate Games Online for the foundations of learning about how effective reinforcement is in training, how to transfer the value of that reinforcement to you, and how to listen to feedback from your dog about where the value is for him. Once you have the foundations, the model for training presented in Crate Games will flow through to all areas of life with your dog.
Let me know in the comments something you have trained your dog to ‘DO’ when there was a challenge you wanted to turn around… or something that you want to train your dog to do!
Today I am grateful to be getting on the road to Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA, next week, and joining my friend and mentor, Bob Bailey, on stage for the “Bob Bailey & Friends Hot Springs 2019 Conference”. This is bringing training with Skinner, Pavlov & the Brelands back to Hot Springs and ‘Think, Plan, Do’ will be at the forefront.