Teaching Behaviors With Consequences

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It is a common question of new puppy owners…”When is it okay to begin training my pet?”

dog and pet training involves controlling the consequences to make behaviors more probableThe most simple answer to that question is, as soon as you bring your puppy home. Here is the thing. Every living being is constantly learning about what behaviors to repeat or to weaken or extinguish based upon what that behavior causes to happen. Behavior, after all, is simply a tool that animals use to get consequences.

If you replace the word ‘training’ with ‘teaching’, it gives you a very different lens from which to look at your relationship and your leadership role with your new friend. Teaching occurs with every interaction you have together, and every interaction your puppy (or dog, or parrot or other animal for that matter) has with his/her environment.

*If* that puppy does something and it gets him/her something that he/she values, then he/she has every reason to continue doing it – because it works. It is so easy when you are living with another being (even with people) to accidentally reinforce what you find problematic and annoying.

Puppies, who were not born understanding self control, learn very quickly that jumping, barking, and grabbing gets them awesome stuff in life. And, once those behaviors have reinforcement histories they will not only continue but strengthen as they grow into adulthood.

Being fully aware of this is the first step toward teaching your puppy life skills that will help him/her succeed in your home. Great initial behaviors to reinforce are ones that have to do with self control, calmness, and focus.

Remember, training occurs every moment of every day, whether you call it training or not.

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