Repetition Shapes Behavior. Communication Builds Relationships.

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A well behaved dog can accompany you to more places

At Dogs in Harmony, we would love to see your dog join you in every adventure. In order for that to happen, your dog must be well socialized with a sound disposition and be able to look to you for direction regardless of environmental distractions. Our philosophy outlines how to accomplish this goal.

Philosophy:

Dogs are simple animals. Their entire goal in life is to maximize good things and eliminate bad things. At Dogs In Harmony, we create training sessions to be fun and rewarding for the dog.  We do this for two reasons 

 

  1. We want learning to become a game so that we increase your dog's desire for more sessions in the future. 

  2. We want your dog to learn that good things happen around you. We want them to learn that you are the center of their universe. The more they hang out with you the better their life will be. 

Behavior Assessment and Private Lessons:

Private lessons are designed to address your goals and needs. The evaluation on the first meeting will dictate what following lessons will entail. All private lessons are an hour in length, but the behavior assessment is billed for 90 minute. The time we spend together is one hour and 30 minutes will be spent outlining a behavior and training plan. The behavior assessment will accomplish the folowing:

 

  1. Evaluate your dog's behavior 

  2. Discuss your needs and set goals. This lesson is much more about you and much less about the dog. 

  3. Give you a complimentary ticket to our "Understanding Learning" lecture. 

  4. Set management techniques so you can curb unwanted behavior right away

  5. Identify the origin of the behavior. Possibilities are: 

    • Involuntary behavior due to emotional and security needs.

    • Learned behavior that needs to be redirected.

    • Biological or developmental behavior that should to be directed towards an appropriate time, place or object. 

  6. Fully understand your dog’s everyday needs 

 

Understanding Behavior:

Most unwanted dog behavior is due to some sort of emotional distress.  This distress could be derived from a negative association in the dog’s past or more likely, lack of knowledge about the trigger.  When dogs are unable to cope with environmental stresses they will communicate this with us. If we are not trained to recognize their way of communication, they may reach their threshold and no longer be able to cope, learn or listen. When a dog passes threshold, there is nothing left to do but to remove the dog from the environment and allow him time to calm down.  Each dog is unique, both threshold level and recovery time are at different for each individual, depending on the dogs experience and disposition.  

Changing Behavior

In order to change your dog's behavior you must first understand what is motivating it.  Everything your dog does has a purpose. It either feels good to them to do it, there is a biological or developmental need for the behavior, a medical issue, or they are getting some sort of external reward. External reward does not need to be food, it can be a reaction, touch, praise, or play.  Fear is also a very powerful motivator.  Once we understand the motivation behind the behavior we must put together a plan on how to change it. We can do any combination of the following:

 

  1. Teach a behavior that is incompatible with the behavior you want to change. Example: If your dog jumps on people for attention, we teach them that they do not get attention unless they are sitting or lying down. 

  2. Teach Impulse Control. Especially with adolescent dogs, if arousal is the motivator, teaching a dog to wait for rewards is crucial.

  3. Seek medical attention to determine that the dog is not acting out due to pain, discomfort or neurological issues. 

  4. Provide an appropriate time and place for the dog to fulfill a biological or developmental need at the rate that is appropriate for the individual dog. 

  5. In cases of fear and/or overstimulation, we put together a plan called counter conditioning and desensitization. These methods are pretty technical and need to be attempted only under guidance of a professional. 

  6. Learned behaviors simply need to be extinguished, meaning that when they are no longer being reinforced, they will eventually end. With this process, most times, these behaviors will get worse before they get better.

 

For any behavior we are trying to change we must always provide an appropriate environment for our dog. Management is key. Remember that repetition shapes behavior. The more behavior is repeated the more permanent it becomes. To change behavior, you must make sure that you set your dog up for success and that the dog does not have opportunitities to repeat the unwanted behavior.