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  • Richard Chan

Stop petting your dog!

What do l need to do after the dog has finished her training?

How do l make sure the training will stay?

In order for a dog to know how to make the better choices, we need to instil in the dog’s mind the desire to make better choices. We need to teach them not to just follow their impulse and react, but take a moment to think about what they should do instead. For example, when they see another dog, instead of defaulting to impulsive mode and just lunge and bark, they need to know how to pause and go to thinking mode - what is the better choice here? In order for them to understand this concept, we need to teach them that the decision they make carries consequence and they are accountable for the consequence. Therefore, they will try to think and earn the good consequence with their good decisions. They do not just go to impulsive mode reactively like they used to. However, if we give the dog a lot of unearned affection and freedom whenever we feel like it, we will be telling the dog the opposite of what we have worked so hard to condition. We will teach the dog, with all our unearned rewards, that their decisions actually do not matter - they will be rewarded anyway even when they have made no effort to earn it. Therefore, they will no longer have the incentive to try make the right decision. Not only that, but as we display lots of emotional energy while baby talking and humanizing the dog, we are projecting impulsive and reactive energy in front of the dog. How can we expect our dog to be calm and rational while we are always acting impulsively and emotionally? How can we tell this reactive dog that being impulsive is wrong when we are very impulsive with our emotional display in front of this dog all the time? Doing so will cause the training to regress a lot because it completely negates the hard work that has been put in to teach the dog how to think. When the owner spends lots of time to bring the dog back into “impulsive non thinking mode” by acting emotionally while giving the dog all sorts of unearned reward day in and day out, the dog will naturally regress. Dogs are not robots. Your dog is the way she is because of the way you have lived with her. Your input will affect the output. If you input emotion and impulsiveness, you will get reactivity and anxiety; if you input structure and self control, you will get attentiveness and calmness. That is why l strongly recommend against giving a dog who has just finished her rehab lots of unearned reward (free roaming, touch, eye contact, soft voice, talking to the dog like a human...).

If you want the training to stay, please exercise great self control and discipline. Thank you.


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