Have A Jealous Or Stubborn Dog? Why I Can’t Help.

It happens SO often. When you ask pet owners about problems they are having with their pets, it boils down to their pet being dominant, jealous, dumb, stubborn, territorial, vicious, a pest, or just plain BAD.

Why labeling dog behavior with constructs does not help to solve dog behavior problems by Cincinnati certified dog trainer Lisa Desatnik, CPDT-KAWell, here’s the thing. When you tell me your dog is jealous, stubborn, or unmotivated I have absolutely no idea what it is that your dog is actually ‘doing’ that causes you to see him as jealous, stubborn or unmotivated. When you tell me your bird is dominant or vicious, a number of different pictures go through my head – none of which could describe how your bird is behaving.

Descriptor words like jealous or stubborn really serve no value when it comes to behavior modification. They are adjectives that are better known as constructs in the science world.

Susan Friedman, Ph.D., described it this way: “A construct is a kind of label that goes beyond a description of observed behaviors into the realm of hypothetical explanations for why an animal does what it does. While a construct may give a summary for a pattern of behavior, it serves as no help when it comes to developing a plan for changing the behavior with the most positive and least intrusive strategies.”

Dr. Friedman went on to teach say that “constructs are nothing more than concepts that can’t be tested; constructs provide us with excuses to blame or worse get rid of the animal; constructs increase the use of ineffective training strategies and strategies based on punishment; constructs give us a false understanding of the problem when we’ve only given it a name; constructs foster self-fulfilling prophecies because you get what you expect; and constructs end our search for actual causes we can do something about.”

Just the other day someone was complaining to me about problems she was having with her dog who became ‘jealous’ when she got a boyfriend. “Bob is a good dog. He’ll grow out of it,” was her response when I asked more questions.

Hmm. How about, instead of labeling her dog’s behaviors with constructs, that she asks herself the following questions instead: What does this label ‘look’ like in terms of actual, observable behavior? Under what conditions does the behavior occur? What is the immediate outcome the behavior produces for my dog?

The answers will help her determine clearly defined behavior-change targets, antecedent predictors that set the behavior in motion, and what consequences maintain or strengthen the behavior. For example, instead of saying, “My dog is jealous,”, she could say, “When I sit on the couch with my boyfriend (antecedent), Bob paws and bumps me (behavior) until I give her attention (consequence).”

Now I can see clearly what the behavior is that my friend wants to modify with an alternative behavior she wants to see more of instead. Now she can create a plan to make changes in the environment to set Bob up for success such as teaching Baxter a behavior that is put on cue, and that is given when she sits on the couch with company.

And in the end, everyone succeeds.

Can I be of more help to you and your pet? Please contact me!

 

 

 

Hear Your Dog When He Says He Does Not Feel Safe

Trust and safety are two very important words when it comes to your dog’s ability and inspiration to learn. I took a continuing education workshop from renowned trainer, Suzanne Clothier, and this quote from her has just stuck with me.

dog training quote by Suzanne Clothier

 

There Is Always A Reason For Behavior

I write a lot about taking a deeper look at behavior so that we can set ourselves and our pets up for success. This video is just excellent at demonstrating how there is always a reason why behavior occurs. Learning how to sleuth out those reasons helps us to effectively teach our pets behaviors we want to see.

Dr. Ian Dunbar Talks About Positive Dog Training on TED

Veterinarian, dog trainer, and animal behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar works to encourage better relationships with dogs — not to mention their friends and children, too. His Sirius Dog Training Company focuses on training puppies to be playful, yet well-behaved. His second organization, Animalin, promotes games for dogs and puppies at an international level.

He  has also written numerous books, including How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks and The Good Little Dog Book. He has also hosted several award-winning videotapes on puppy and dog training.

Below is his TED Talk. Great information!

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