|Ah, Benny. It's so hard to say No to that face.|
Dog sits, dog gets treat. Behavior reinforced.
(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?