Choices have a Price Tag
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Choices come at a price. This is no different in dog training. The obvious problem with choices are the bad ones. Bad choices become a pattern of bad habits very quickly. Bad habits, as you may have experienced yourself, are a lot harder to fix than teaching only the correct choice to begin with.
If we take honest stock of how much control we have in a situation with our dog, we will have to admit that we can avoid bad choices via leash, collar, or even our voice the first time, in almost all cases. We are usually the ones responsible for not properly negotiating the right amount of control when there is opportunity for a choice to be made. Worse yet, if we do not have the necessary controls in place to influence a choice, especially when the dog is first learning a skill, that’s simply plain bad training.
When we are about to engage with our dog, it is effective to anticipate the mistakes which could happen in that situation. When we are aware of the possible mistakes, we become more aware of the proper and necessary setup to put in place before we work the skill with our dog.
It is technically impossible for dogs to learn to jump on people when the encounter occurs on leash. And a young, sociable, excitable dog who meets a stranger for the first time should not be allowed this greeting off leash to “see what happens”. It should be impossible for a dog to run away from us when we first teach “Come”, as we should work on this exercise with a leash to help show the dog the solution. If a puppy pulls on leash, show him the absolute first time you walk him what earns forward motion – not pulling.
Make your training scenarios fail-proof so the dog can learn the one and only correct choice the first time. First learning has largest impact. Make the correct choice be that first impression. Show them clearly with food and equipment what you want and block, prevent, avoid the rest. Training becomes not only accelerated but a lot of fun this way.