Michael Baugh CDBC CPTD-KSA
I like metaphors and analogies when I’m teaching folks about dog behavior change. Comparisons to money are my favorite since humans find it so reinforcing.
Here’s an example. Let’s says we have a dog who barks and charges at new people coming into his home. Every time we follow a predictable training protocol for introducing him to new people it’s like putting money in the bank. Behavior analyst Susan Friedman calls it her “trust account.” We are making an investment in building trust. On the flip side, every time we allow a person to set our dog off it’s like taking out a huge withdrawal from the account. The dog barks and charges and we lose part of our investment. The idea, of course, is to get rich earning lots of trust. Too many mishaps and we go broke, no more trust.
Just like with a financial investment, sometimes the best thing we can do with our dog training investment is to let it mature long-term on its own. Let’s look at that same dog who barks and charges at new people. We’ve put in a minimal effort with training. We have a good greeting protocol in place and the dog is actually getting comfortable with some of our friends. The returns on our training investment can build exponentially just by letting things be. Here are some specific strategies for building compound interest on your training efforts:
- Allow for zero uncontrolled greetings (e.g. person just walks in). That alone will build trust and confidence. Think of it as passive income on your investment.
- Put more training in the account. Run controlled meetings that are easy. You don’t have to invest huge amounts of effort, just a little bit here and there adds up.
- Don’t mess with your investment. We don’t want to withdrawal what we’ve put in for something that promises quick gains. We can lose everything that way and none of us wants to go broke or have to start over where we began.
Think for a moment how rich we’d all be if we started young. Puppies are prime training investment opportunities. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start with the dog you have now – you should. But, keep the puppy thing in mind. There’s nothing like a dog whose learned behavioral flexibility from day one. That kind of investment will pay dividends for a lifetime.
Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston, TX. He specializes in fearful and aggressive dog training.