Emotional-Based Learning

Emotions?  Like happy, sad and mad?  
How do emotions relate to training my dog? 

Emotions are at the root of all behavior.  Behavior is based on how your dog (as well as you as a human) feels about experiences that take place in its life.

Stimulation: you grab your dog’s leash
Dog’s emotion: Excitement, happiness
Behavior: Dog’s tail starts wagging, they spin circles and vocalize

Stimulation: your dog sees another dog on a walk
Dog’s emotion: fear, apprehension
Behavior: Tail tucked, ears pinned back, dog barks and maybe hides behind you or possible barks at the end of the leash

Stimulation: doorbell rings
Dog’s emotion: excitement
Behavior: barking at the door, jumping on guests, urinating

THREE SIMPLE THINGS: Until you can learn more in-depth training tools, try these tips to help support your dog’s needs.  While it is easy to let your emotions get the best of you when your dog has outbursts, remember the simplicity of 1, 2, 3!

  1. Stay calm yourself. Dogs model owner behavior and it sends the wrong information to the dog when you erupt just like they are doing.  Also, the added energy you inject into the experience will only add to the chaos in your dog’s mind.
  2. Comfort food for the win!Food in training is a great way to help stabilize your dog’s emotions.  Just like you may enjoy chocolate, a warm bowl of soup or your favorite beverage when you are feeling on edge, food brings comfort to your dog too in stressful moments. Using high-value food could entice your dog more if the experience is too overstimulating.
  3. Keep on moving. If an experience becomes overwhelming for your dog, keep on moving away from the stimulation.  More distance will help your dog feel more comfortable, and they will have an easier time eating the food as the pressure of the situation lessens.

While traditional dog training focused on using obedience to control the dog’s behaviors is often the solution that might come to your mind in the examples above, obedience misses the central reason for the behavior – how the dog feels about the stimulation. Obedience becomes a cork to try and stop a behavior from being expressed, and otherwise control the dog.  As we understand WHY the behavior is occurring, its easy to see how obedience is truly just an attempt to mask what is really taking place.  Most often, the emotion is too high for the dog to hear your commands, be responsive to them or be able to hold a specific position.  Additionally, obedience can actually MAKE THE EMOTION WORSE because no creature feels optimal about losing control or forced into doing things we don’t like or agree with.

  • Obedience is a battle of wills with your dog.
  • Obedience elevates emotion in your dog AND YOU because everyone gets frustrated.
  • Obedience escalates to force all too often.

The missing piece to creating positive behavior with your dog is digging deeper.  Looking past your frustrations and focusing on the WHY your dog is jumping all over you when you get the leash out or why they are barking at the end of the leash when they see another dog.

Let Full House Dog Training teach you the steps to filling in the missing piece, how to create accountability in your dog for the choices they are making and help them learn more appropriate ways to respond on their own instead of you barking out commands in a futile effort to control their behavior.

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