Positive trainers manage their dogs resources and dole them out consequently dependent upon behavior. Good behavior earns access to resources bad or unwanted behavior leads to nothing.
Your job as a handler is to manage the resources your dog wants and grant access to those resources based upon your dog’s behavior. You tell them when you like their behavior with the positive marker and then grant them access to a resource they desire as the consequence. If you don’t like their behavior you withhold the resource they want until you get an acceptable behavior.
When the dog realizes that pulling toward the tree doesn’t work, but eye contact and a nice sit get him there every time, then the dog stops pulling for the tree and instead offers a sit and eye contact.
When the dog realizes that bolting through an open door doesn’t lead to the freedom of outside, but sitting and eye contact get him out every time, the bolting behavior stops and the sit and eye contact happens instead.
When the dog realizes that holding on to the disc is a behavioral dead end but dropping on cue makes the next disc fly, the dog spits the disc out on cue.
The resources that you want to manage are the ones that your dog finds attractive. You do not get to choose what motivates your dog, but you do get to choose how to use those things that do motivate them.
In the above situations You reinforced the good behavior with access to the resource the dog wanted at the time leading them to believe that their good behavior earned what they wanted in the first place, but you can also substitute a resource they desire in exchange for the resource they are expecting. You can reinforce the sit with eye contact with a cookie even though all they really want is to pea on the tree. You can reinforce with a bite and tug for sitting and giving eye contact at the door. It doesn’t matter that the dog really wanted out and only gave you the eye contact to get out the door. All that matters is that good behaviors create the opportunity for good consequences.
Your dog should wind up believing that their behavior creates and affects their opportunity. Good behaviors create opportunity for the dog to earn reinforcement. Dogs don’t earn the right to a cookie so much as they create the opportunity that earns the cookie.
In the game of disc, access to the handler, the energy level of the game, to a bite, to chase, or catch, access to the next trick are all valuable resources and can all be used to motivate and reinforce our dog. You need to manage these resources and dole them out for good behavior.
The Path to All That’s Good Runs Through the Handler
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