Pay it Forward

A client recently admitted to me that she has not been carrying treats with her on walks with her dog. She said it is annoying, can get messy, and she just didn’t want to deal with it.

I told her I understood–it’s definitely one more thing to remember. But, I know that she will not get the results that she expects without consistently rewarding her dog for the behavior that she wants.

I’m going to show her how she can set herself up for success with a (small) dog walking bag. It will need to have room for a house key, cell phone, poop bags, and treats, everything she needs for every walk with her dog. A great source for the bag is LeSportSac. I’m also a fan of fanny-packs–yes, we’re bringing back the 80s! Hands free treat portability with little mess!

I reviewed a very important concept in dog training and behavior modification: reinforcement builds behavior. The only way a retirement account grows is if you make investments into it and give it time for the interest to accrue. You will not see immediate returns on it. It requires patience—think marathon, not sprint. The same thing is true of dog training.  The more rewards you give your dog when teaching a behavior, the more value it has for him, the more likely he will repeat the behavior you desire. For the dog it’s very simple—it’s not about control. It’s just about what feels good for him in that moment. Dogs live moment by moment, so we make the investment by carrying treats and rewarding more of what we want in order to build the behavior that we want.

I also realized that it wasn’t just about value for the dog–the owner was not seeing a value in preparing treats in advance or  bringing them with her on walks. She believed that at this point she should have control over the dog–that’s what every dog owner wants. When I see her at our next session, I am going to remind her out how awesome her dog’s recall is at the dog park. I will explain that through the timely delivery of reward (treats) and by taking the time to build the behavior of recall, she now has off-leash, vocal control of her dog. She reinforced her dog’s behavior and now she is reaping the benefit of that work. I hope this will help her to understand how rewarding appropriate behavior on walks with treats will result in better behavior on walks by her dog.

Clarity & harmony…a better way of living with your dog.