As humans, we live our lives in a yes or no state.
Yes, that will make me happy, and the results will feel great.
No, that is unacceptable, and I will feel terrible after.
With all that said, I find myself in conversations with clients over the value of the requests we make upon our dogs. In this blog, I will translate the dog's perspective of your requests.
Let's say you want "Petunia," (the two-year-old bulldog) to sit:
Petunia hears you say her name, so she willingly offers an ear to your voice, she knows you are going to ask her for something. Then she hears the word sit.
Now, some dogs, out of pure repetitive behavior may just plop their tush on the ground, but for educational purposes let's say she doesn't. What is happening with your overly trained, exceptionally smart dog?
I ask you to look at what is in Petunia's field of vision, what is she smelling or even doing when you ask her? Is the value of that "thing" (she is so deeply involved in) greater than what you have to offer after she completes your request? Would you, if you were in Petunia's place, stop doing whatever it is you are doing to sit?
Ask yourself; Why do I want her to sit? Really, why? If it happens to be an emergency, I am sure your very well trained dog will hear the tone of your voice and immediately sit. However, this scenario is not an emergency.
Let's dig a little deeper; During your training process (however long ago that was) did you continually pay her with food, affection or play for doing what you ask? (I hope you were if you were teaching). Thinking about now, do you still pay Petunia with all that food, affection and play when you ask her to sit? Probably not, especially if she doesn't offer a quick response to your command.
Going back to the yes or no status of OUR lives, would you, if you were Petunia, consider the value of sitting down a big HECK YES, or a big HECK NO, considering the value of your "reward" for doing it?
I ask you, for your dog's happiness, layer back in some value. Get back into giving some reward, more fun and less expectation. Stop asking so much of your dog and work on your connection. Keep your communication light and let your dog just be a dog sometimes.
is it a HECK YES? -or- HECK NO?