“The power to control one’s own outcomes is essential to behavioral health, and the degree to which a behavior reduction procedure preserves learner control is essential to developing a standard of humane, effective practice.” – Dr. Susan Friedman
I am reminded of this quote from my first mentor and teacher often in my dog training consultations (and with my own pets). Susan pioneered the use of Applied Behavior Analysis to captive and companion animals world wide and advocates for using the most positive, least intrusive means for modifying pet behavior.
One time this came to light recently was during a visit with a friend’s puppy. Kiwi and I were having fun playing, teaching and learning…until I tried to clip a leash around his harness. He jumped away from me each time I tried. I could have chosen to force the issue but instead, I wanted to teach Kiwi that having a leash clipped to his harness was a good thing and I wanted him to come to that conclusion on his own. I just wanted to set things up so that he learned that his choice of sitting in front of me for me to clip on the leash was the best one for him. Anytime you are dealing with fear, anxiety or discomfort from your dog or any animal, the more that you can do to give your dog (or other animal) the power to control his outcomes, the greater degree you will be building your dog’s confidence while strengthening your relationship in the process.
Please watch this video to see how I worked through this with Kiwi.