"If your dog could drive an RV, would he drive a 2.5 million dollar Prevost? Or would he drive a $6,000 1982 Toyota Dolphin?”
I wrote in my first book, "Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!" (available exclusively at DogProblems.com) about the Three Keys to Successful Behavior Modification: Timing, Consistency and Motivation.
Last week I covered Consistency, the second key. The third key is:
Motivation as it relates to dog training means that: Whatever you do with your dog (either praising him for desired behavior or correcting him for unwanted behavior) it is done with meaning.
Have you ever had somebody attempt to compliment you for a job well done... but their compliment was offered in a lethargic tone, with no enthusiasm and no expression? Did their compliment make you feel good? Of course not. With my approach to dog training, a compliment (praise) that lacks any real meaning is what we refer to as: not motivational.
It's the same with a correction: The example I used in my book is the story of the police officer who gives you a ticket for speeding in the fast lane... but the ticket is only for $1. For most people, this isn't motivational enough to get them to stop speeding. For the police officer's ticket to be motivational for you-- he needs to write you a ticket that is going to be just motivational enough to get you to adjust your behavior.
If your dog could drive an RV, would he drive a 2.5 million dollar Prevost? Or would he drive a $6,000 1982 Toyota Dolphin? Well, if you're the police officer and you know that it's imperative (and possibly life-saving) that you get your message across-- the ticket that you write for the "dog" who drives a Prevost needs to be a lot more motivational than it would be for the dog who drives the Toyota Dolphin. If you're going to get your point across to the dog that drives a Prevost, your ticket had better be motivational. So, for that dog-- you're going to need to give him a $10,000 speeding ticket.
And if your dog drives a 1982 Toyota Dolphin? Then maybe a $50 speeding ticket will be enough to get your point across and be motivational. Or perhaps even a firm look!
Also note that the motivation of your praise or correction will be situational and depend on how well your dog understands the situation. The first time he successfully does an exercise you're trying to teach (and you see that proverbial light bulb above his head go on) then you're going to want to make your praise extra motivational. To use the money analogy-- he just won the lottery. But after he's done that same exercise 10 times a day for two years... a simple, "Good dog" will be motivational enough.
The same holds true for a motivational correction. A correction needs to be only motivational enough to get your point across, not more. Of course: A correction for growling at a child will always be a Level 10 correction in contrast to a behavior where the dog makes a simple mistake and the point of the correction is just to communicate to the dog that he's made a simple mistake. The ability to moderate our corrections is a concept that is completely lost on the small percentage of the professional dog training community who advocate a 100% cookie-bribery approach. (More on how to correct your dog, later).
In a future issue of my newsletter, I'll reveal a couple of safe, humane and effective ways to correct your dog.
Enjoy your dog and your RV!
Copyright 2011 By Adam G. Katz and DogProblems.com. All Rights Reserved.