Today is the first day of …
What is your dog doing right now? OK, good, she’s lying on her bed, being quiet, maybe even sleeping. So you have time to read this short post.
Your dog has the self-assigned task of watching you all day, every day, as long as you are in the same space. This is how she knows when it’s time to go for a walk, when dinner is going to be served, when you are preparing to leave for a while – basically, anything you do can be predicted by your dog minutes (sometimes several minutes) before you do it. Sometimes you’re not even aware that you’re thinking of doing something – and the dog already knows. Oh – and even when the dog isn’t looking, she’s very aware of where you are and what you’re doing.
Today your assignment is to watch your dog. Yes, I know, you’re really really busy. But in the course of the day, perhaps two or three times an hour, take a moment to see where your dog is and what she’s doing. Is she watching you as you’re washing dishes? * Is she looking quietly out the window as people pass? * Has she just walked up to you and sat? * Did someone just knock on the door (ring the doorbell) and she barked once and quieted down immediately? * Did she lie down under your desk when you sat down to do email? * On her walk with you did she walk quietly at your side for three seconds? * Did she pay attention to you when another dog was walking by? *
*All of these behaviors – and more – offered by your dog present opportunities to reward her.*
**Behavior that is rewarded is likely to be repeated.**
Besides increasing the probability that your dog will give you “good” behavior (i.e., behaviors that you like), the other wonderful fallout from watching your dog and reinforcing behaviors that you appreciate is that you will find more to appreciate about your dog. You’ll be surprised at how good your “bad” dog actually is, because, instead of just noticing when she’s being “bad,” you will see all the “good” stuff she offers – all day, every day! Both of you will feel happier and healthier for the exercise.
Oh, and don’t just confine this assignment to today. Tomorrow is another opportunity to reinforce your dog’s good behaviors.