Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beggin' You Please (#atozchallenge)

Ah, Benny. It's so hard to say No to that face.
Dog training is based on a simple concept: reinforce the behavior you want.

Dog sits, dog gets treat. Behavior reinforced.

Simple.

(I can hear all you dog owners laughing already.)

Here's my scenario every morning at the patio doors: seven furry babes ("babes" that on average weigh 20kg) clamor to get in. Against the glass doors.

Instinct takes over. I run to get the door open before someone breaks that glass.

Next morning, same thing. The one after that? Mm-hmm. And it doesn't take Cesar Millan to help me figure out why.

I'm reinforcing the behavior. I'm telling my dogs that the key to getting inside as fast as possible is to jump against the (glass, dammit) doors. Oh, see the human run! It works, guys! One more time, everybody together!

Training doesn't only happen from human to dog; this here's a great example of dog-to-human. You don't like me banging against this transparent thing? Well, then: HURRY UP. That's it, good human. I'll stop the banging now.

Kids--newborn babies, teenagers--do this to their parents all the time. Adults do it to each other. It's conditioning, a kind of Pavlov response; that's how all us animals learn about controlling our universe.

And we keep on doing it. Consciously or otherwise.

Which is why it's a good idea to take a look at the conflicts in our lives and ask ourselves if maybe, just maybe, there's a bit of conditioning at work here. What behaviors do we reinforce in others--and in ourselves? What behaviors do others reinforce in us? What do we reward? How do we reward it? Are we absolutely sure that we're reinforcing the behavior we want?

Or are we racing to open those glass doors?

18 comments :

  1. Great insights, Guilie! :) Am loving your posts here. Sure, we all learn how to behave to get the desired response. :) Benny is adorable!
    The Doglady's Den

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    1. Thanks, Debbie! So glad you're enjoying this series. Yep, behavior is a powerful tool :D (And Benny is blushing.)

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  2. Great point. Now to figure out how to change it.

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    1. Ah, yes. Therein lies the whole enchilada ;) Thanks for the visit!

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  3. So true about conditioning whether we are doing it with our furry friends or with humans. I have to say that my corgi is really good at training me, I think I did something wrong along the way!

    betty

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  4. This is a great post and SO true!! Dogs are great trainers ;)

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  5. SO true!! Brilliant post by the way. We love the way you write your posts and have just added you to our reading list. Good to see you enjoying the A to Z challenge as much as us!
    berniethefrenchie.blogspot.com

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  6. Wow! You have me thinking... Dogs are amazing. And, if we let them, a great insight into ourselves. I'll be back to see what you have for C. Have a great day!

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  7. So, the 'controller' could actually be the 'controlled' and vice versa! Superb post!!

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  8. Thought-provoking. Makes me wondered what I do and what is done to me...

    Dina Mom

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  9. Excellent observations. I once worked with (and later for) a dog trainer who disliked her title. She's declare "I'm a human trainer. Once you people stop messing up, your dogs will be perfect!"

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  10. Love! Found your blog through the A to Z challenge! http://www.livingatelier.com/

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  11. I loved how you made the point using dogs as analogy. Benny is so adorable. No one can say no to that :)

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  13. Reinforced behavior - SOOOOOOOO true. I had almost 40 years of conflict (hence, why I wrote Battered Hope) I definitely have conditioned response and why I use EVERY chance I get to laugh -- helps with the balance of things. Love the post!

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  14. Loved it! Had me laughing out loud. You described me without even being here in our house. Definitely gave me something to think about. Thanks...

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  15. An important point made through a "day with dogs" kind of post. Nice one!

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