By Chris Bach and The Third Way – The Next Generation in Reinforcement Training
Chris shares her second and third goals for being your dog’s Guide.
GOAL NUMBER TWO – A Good Guide Recognizes that a Human Household is an Alien Land to a Dog.
To be a good guide it will be most helpful to be empathetic to your dog’s dilemmas in joining your family. Any human household is an alien or foreign land to a puppy. It is a mystery and will remain so all of his life. Dogs are perfect at being dogs not furry little people. The dog will never learn to automatically or miraculously respond or react to you or your wishes the way people can learn to react to people and anticipate their wants and needs.
People can converse with one another. That is how we learn the way things affect someone other than ourselves. Dogs do not have this ability. They will never comprehend how their behavior affects you or any other living thing. They only understand how your behavior affects them! And they can only learn how to respond to your cues in order to react in ways that will be pleasing to you and your family.
For example, the puppy will never comprehend that you do not want him to eliminate in your house so that it stays clean and hospitable for you and your family. He only comprehends how to eliminate when his body dictates it is time to do so. He naturally seeks a spot other than where his food is located or where he normally rests. The fact that you want him to potty in a specific spot outdoors in the yard and not in the basement is an alien concept to the dog. He must be taught by you where and when to eliminate. He will learn to do so, but he will never understand it is for his own good or the good of the household the way a child learns to use a toilet instead of her diapers. Understanding this will enable you to respond appropriately and empathetically while you are potty training him and later if he makes a “mistake” in the house.
Ideally, the dog should have only one guide who fully recognizes that he or she alone is totally responsible for the dog’s education and protection. This person would know it was up to them to prevent the dog from being confused or hurt from inappropriate, unsympathetic, inconsistent or uneducated guidance from others. They would reliably manage his behavior to protect him from inadvertently learning inappropriate coping strategies that create problems with the people or other animals in the household.
For example, an unguided puppy may learn to hide behind couches to eliminate because he did not have a guide that supervised him consistently. Then when he made a mistake someone hurt and scared him. In turn this puppy learned to hide from people when heeding nature’s call. In the end, this puppy would be very difficult to potty train because he will not want to eliminate when there are people anywhere near him.
This will never happen to your dog because you will be on duty at ALL times. When you are not there to supervise him, he will be confined or a temporary guide will be established.
The fact is that no human traveler in any foreign land ever automatically understood the language, customs or social requirements of the native inhabitants. The traveler needed to be taught these things by a caring and empathetic guide. If one was not available, the unfortunate foreigner had to learn “the hard way” and endure many disastrous and difficult repercussions! Don’t let this happen to your dear dog. Take action to teach him appropriate responses and while he is learning, protect him and prevent him from making costly mistakes through proper management.
Isn’t proper, loving, empathetic guidance what you would want and need if you entered a foreign land? Because dogs are truly travelers into the foreign land of humans, dogs need a good guide who will make it their responsibility to protect, manage and educate them.
When acquiring a new dog or a puppy, everyone wants to give their new pet the best possible chance at having a happy, harmonious life. Accepting the responsibility of being a good guide is an important gift for you to give the puppy to guarantee his successful coexistence with people.
GOAL NUMBER THREE – Guidance Must be Accepted Voluntarily
If you were in a foreign land and someone tried to force guidance upon you, would you voluntarily accept it? If not, what would you do? If they put social pressure on you because you were unsure and this made you even more apprehensive of them, what would you do now? Answering these questions will give you insight into how important it is that your dog voluntarily accepts your guidance. Guidance is not something that can be forced upon anyone.
Next, if they hurt or scared you and you could not comprehend whether it was accidental or not, would you continue letting them guide you? What if they chased you, then grabbed you, smacked you, or shook you and you could not predict when that would happen? And worse, what if you had no idea how to prevent it from occurring? What if you knew your guide was capable of putting you in danger? Would you ever voluntarily relax around them and let them handle, manipulate or teach you? Would you let them be your guide? Considering these questions, I think you will agree that it is of paramount importance that your dog feels safe in your presence for him to accept your guidance. To this end, the program I am sharing with you is intended to assist you in establishing and maintaining a “safety history” with your dog.
Concentrating on having your dog always feel safe in your presence will cause him to seek out your company rather than avoid it. Thus keeping track of him and his activities will be easier. This will enable you to be the most effective guide possible. It will also create the situation in which your dog voluntarily accepts your guidance as well.
(c) THE THIRD WAY ~ Chris Bach ~ 2002 – 2003. All rights reserved.