Double the A Divide the W

The double “A’s” we're referring to are Antecedent Arrangement. The “W” is work. Think of antecedent arrangement as home staging. How your home is set up will affect how your pet behaves. Your home can set your dog up for success or for failure.

Many folks insist on letting household temptations constantly surround their new dog. These people believe that the only way their dog will learn to leave things alone is to constantly be told to do so. Life is challenging enough, who wants to constantly follow their dog around and micromanage him? Let's explore two scenarios. Which pet would you rather live with?

Dog number one never learned to make bad choices in the first place. The laundry and shoes are put away, the tables and countertops are kept tidy. Your dog receives praise, attention, treats, and food puzzles for laying on her bed. You teach your dog to ask for attention in desirable ways like sitting quietly by your side or bringing you one of her toys. When shoes and laundry are available, this dog ignores them because she has productive ways to meet her needs.

Dog number two has access to temptations at all times. Dog number two may be sitting quietly by your side as you work on your computer or your phone. You may snap a selfie of your faithful companion, but you don't interact with him in a meaningful manner.  Desperately seeking your attention, he grabs a sock because you always chase him and “play tug” whenever he grabs a sock. Dog number two learns to seek attention by grabbing laundry, shoes, and swiping food off of counters. Sitting quietly or bringing you his toys didn't earn attention, but being "naughty" sure did.

Dog number one's family can start training basic manners and tricks. Dog number one’s family can even progress to training basic manners with distractions because their home is a mistake-free learning experience for their dog. Dog number two's family has double the training work. Dog number two’s family has to train their dog to leave laundry, shoes, and food alone in addition to basic manners training. Dog number two's family has a lot more work to do than dog number one's family.

The math is simple but not easy. Double the "As" and divide the "W".  Put your laundry in a bedroom and close the door. Put your shoes in an ottoman or closet. Use baby gates, crates, and x-pens to keep your dog out of messy areas of the house. Teach your dog to lay on a mat during your meal prep and meal times. Make a habit of giving your dog a frozen stuffed food puzzle whenever you sit down for a meal at the dining room table or in front of the TV. You’ll be amazed by how quickly your dog will dive bomb onto her mat expecting a frozen stuffed food puzzle when she sees you sitting down for dinner.

Need more antecedent arrangement tips? Need help changing course from frustrated with Fido to canine collaborator? We’ve got stacks on stacks of ideas for you.