Curious About Chaos?

Did our last blog post challenge you to think about your dog or cat’s behavior differently? This is where being a curious person helps! If we break the behavior down, it seems less chaotic. We can change behavior by identifying the cues and consequences. As Bob Bailey says, “Your animal’s behavior cannot change until your behavior changes.”

Ready for the answers to last week’s quiz? Here we go…

1.Jumping

Favorite person comes home from work, walks through the front door. The dog, seeking attention from her favorite person, jumps up. Favorite person yells at the dog, knees her in the chest, and pushes her down. What happens next?

A. Jumping on the favorite person continues

B. Jumping stops and never occurs again

The answer is A. The dog’s jumping is reinforced with attention. Since the person was yelling, kneeing and pushing the dog down, the dog was still receiving attention. Even though he probably thought he was punishing the dog, the dog was actually being rewarded for jumping.

2.Barking

Your dog looks out the window and barks at dog walker in front of your home. Dog walker keeps walking until out of sight. The next time a person walks a dog past your house, your dog’s reaction is to:

A. Stay quiet

B. Bark

The answer is B. Your dog barked when he saw the dog walker. At the same time, the dog walker kept walking until she was out of sight. After she was gone, your dog stopped barking. Even though the dog walker was always going to keep walking past the window, if your dog was barking to make the dog walker go away, your dog’s barking was rewarded when the dog walker left.

3.Chewing

You catch your dog in the act of chewing a shoe. You redirect your dog by giving him a bully stick right where he was chewing. What is the result?

A. Chewing the shoe stops forever

B. Chewing the shoe stops in that moment, then continues

The answer is B. By giving the dog a delicious bully stick at the scene of the crime, you unintentionally rewarded your dog for shoe chewing.

4.Pulling on Leash

Whenever your dog sees another dog, she pulls on leash. You extend your arm and jog up to the other dog because your dog “just wants to say hi.” What is the result?

A. Your dog pulls every time she sees another dog

B. Your dog stops pulling

The answer is A. Every time you extend your arm and speed up when your dog pulls, you reward your dog for pulling.

5.Stealing Laundry

Your dog is playing with his toys. You take a selfie of your dog playing with his toys, but don’t play with him. Your dog grabs a sock and you chase your dog. What is the result?

A. Playing with his toys will increase

B. Stealing socks will increase

The answer is B. You chose not to interact with him when your dog was playing with his toys, boring! Chasing your dog when he has a sock is an exciting game which your playful attention seeking dog probably finds rewarding.Therefore you inadvertently reinforced sock-stealing behavior.

As Bob Bailey says, “You get what you reinforce, not what you want.” So, how did you do? Were you able to predict the outcomes?

Did you identify yourself with one or more of the scenarios? Still curious? For more discussion and information on changing the above and other behaviors, check out our free dog training talks this spring and summer on our Facebook page. www.behaviorunited.com

Jackie Moyano