Why I’m a Good Dog Trainer and Made It to 39 Years of Marriage
January 8, 1978 is my wedding anniversary. My husband and I have now been married for 39 years. Woooo! Here we are that winter of 1978 with our two dogs, Oreo and Obi!
You may ask, “Why is that fact in a dog training blog?” Good question. Even better answer coming.
Intermittent Rewards that are valued by the husband. Not what I think or hope they will value, but, what actually causes the desired behaviors to be repeated. The behavior with the strongest rate of reinforcement is the one that will be successfully responded to, or even offered without being asked.
My husband makes the bed…without being asked. That’s because he is rewarded (by me) on an intermittent schedule. He never knows which time I’m going to reward him and I’m not going to tell you what I reward him with (TMI), but, let’s just say, it works.
What also works is that we tell each other we love each other, often. Not several times a day, but, many times a week. Why after 39 years do we have to declare our love for each other? After all, we said it to each other at the beginning of our marriage. Because that’s one of the ways we maintain our relationship. We don’t take each other for granted.
Dog owners lose their love for their dogs. They take the dog’s good behaviors for granted. They think, “Why should I have to reward the dog for behaviors he already knows?” Because that’s one of the ways you maintain the good behaviors. Duh! What seems simple to me is not simple to everyone.
I can hear the whining now. “So, you’re telling me I have to walk around with treats in my pockets for the rest of the dog’s life?”
No. But, you do have to do this:
- Prioritize which behaviors are the most important and reward these often. Use food, use games, use really sincere play and praise, but, it has to be something the dog can’t live without! For me, it’s a fluent response to “Come”.
- Every time you want to give your dog a treat, a scrap of last night’s chicken, figure out a way to make it a training game. Don’t just give it to the dog because they are sitting next to the kitchen counter staring at you.
- Each month teach your dog a new trick. It doesn’t have to be over the top, simple is fine, too. And when you train, reward the dog with food treats. This reinforces that the dog can win valuable rewards for “getting it right”.
Laura Brody lives in Colorado with her family and 4 dogs. She is a certified member of Victoria Stilwell's Positively training team and an experienced dog trainer and behavior specialist using only positive methods.
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