Monday, May 23, 2016

You Know More Than You Think You Do

"Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do." - Benjamin Spock

TRAINING is not a new idea, and training controversies are as old as the Bible.

For instance, the debate we are having about DOGS is the same debate we have had for generations about CHILDREN.

So let’s talk about kids.

Or, to put a limit on it, let’s talk about ONE LINE – the opening line -- in the best-selling child and baby care book of all time.

The book was written by Dr. Benjamin Spock , and it was entitled “Baby and Child Care.”

It has sold over 50 million copies, making it one of the most popular books in the history of written language.

I want to draw your attention to the OPENING LINE of this book:

“You know more than you think you do.”

What a wonderful line. “You know more than you think you do.”

Isn’t that a wonderful line to start a discussion about dog training!?? “You know more than you think you do.”

What is this line saying? It is saying: "I do not need to feel superior to you. You are smart. You have intuitive knowledge you may not know."

And what is it suggesting? It is suggesting that if you LISTEN carefully to what is going to be said NEXT, you will see exactly how smart you already are!

This opening line is an opportunity for your student or reader to come away with an “AHA!” moment. It’s an opportunity to give your client the LANGUAGE and the FRAME they need to explain what they are doing when others ask about how they are training their dog.

This last part is important. If you have dogs, you will be ASKED.

  • You will be asked what BREED the dog is. 

  • You will be asked what you FEED the dog.

  • You will be asked HOW and WHY you TRAIN your dog the way you do. 

The answers we give to these questions should always turn back to the owner and make them feel good about themselves.

  • It’s not about the DOG. 

  • It’s not about the DEVICE or COLLAR. 

  • It’s about the OWNER. 

To come back to it; if we fail to provide folks with a FRAME that MIRRORS back to them what they hope is true about themselves, then our ‘FACTS” may be rejected, and our techniques and methods may not be followed up on.

And WHY? Because if the FACTS don’t fit the FRAME, we tend to reject the facts, and NOT THE FRAME!

That’s all well and good, you say, but WHAT IS THE PROPER FRAME for dog collar training? Let me suggest this one, which most people will instantly accept:

  • There are self-rewarding behaviors and behaviors that are NOT self-rewarding. 

  • Self-rewarding behaviors present different problems than behaviors that are not self-rewarding.

This is NOT news to most people, but let's illuminate it a little more.

A self-rewarding behavior is one that brings with it its own rewards. Let me give you an example. I am sometimes asked how I reward my working terriers for hunting miles of fields in bad weather, finding an occupied den, sliding underground, and then facing off against a snarling and snapping critter at the end of a pipe, whether that critter is a fox, a raccoon, a possum, or a groundhog. Surely I must use a clicker and big box of HIGH value treats?

Nope. The reward is that I let the dog do it again. For a working terrier, finding fur inside a dark den pipe is its own reward. There is a strong prey drive in a good working terrier. Prey drive is a self-rewarding behavior. It's why a thrown ball or stick is strong reward for many breeds; chasing feels good.

Other self-rewarding behaviors are a bit more obvious.

  • When a dog knocks over a kitchen trashcan and pulls out an old sandwich or a yogurt container, that’s self-rewarding behavior. 

  • When a dog rolls in a dead fish on the beach, or deer poop in the woods, that’s self-rewarding behavior. 

  • Barking is self-rewarding behavior. A lot of dogs like to hear themselves talk, same as people.

  • Jumping on the soft sofa is self-rewarding behavior. 

  • Leaping a fence to find a dog in heat is self-rewarding behavior.  

  • Chasing a squirrel or a neighbor’s cat is self-rewarding behavior. 

A lot of what dogs do that folks want STOPPED is self-rewarding behavior.

What’s NOT self-rewarding behavior?

Most dog TRICKS are not self-rewarding behavior. 

Running weave poles, sitting on command, climbing a ladder, and returning a shot duck is NOT self-rewarding behavior.

Notice the frame here: Self-rewarding vs. NOT self-rewarding.

Notice that I have NOT talked about training methods.

You cannot understand the need for balanced training methods until you understand dogs, and you cannot understand dogs without a frame that recognizes that there are self-rewarding behaviors and also behaviors that require external rewards -- same as with people.

Most people have not thought too much about rewards and behavior, and so this is a new frame.

That said, they understand and recognize the idea instantly. This is common sense. They KNOW THIS. But, until now, they have not had a language for it.

NOW they understand why a BALANCED trainer has a kibble bag on their belt AND an e-collar remote on their belt.

Two tools for two different kinds of behavior.  

They knew more than then they thought they did.

No comments: