Wednesday, October 14, 2015

You get the behavior you reinforce!

When something in the environment is uncomfortable for Viva she will growl then bark and can quickly go over threshold.  So, I'm working with Viva and her behaviors that are produced by the environment.  The outcome I want is that when she starts to feel uncomfortable, instead of growling/barking she will come to me for reinforcement.  Remember, we never want to punish a growl! 

We have made great progress in the house!  She rarely barks and the growling has significantly reduced.  Here's a video capturing the behaviors.  The bad news is that the music I was listening to is loud and it's hard to hear Viva growl before coming to check in with me.  She checks in with me twice.  Once at the beginning of the video (no growl) and the second time at 19 seconds (with a growl).

As you will quickly see I AM getting trained by another dog...  Funny when you watch this - ask "Who's training who?"

I love that D'light wants to engage with me so I reinforce the behavior.  We are reinforcing our dogs all the time - many times we don't even realize we are doing it!  So, if you have a behavior you like or don't like, start paying attention to how you are reinforcing the behavior.  Remember there are more reinforcers than just food.

"Oh my you have my favorite treat - buffalo lung!"

"I would like a treat!"

And one of the thousands of things that I love about D'light is that he always makes me giggle as you will hear in the video...

Oh sweet D'light you are an adorable smart little boy!

We do more practice minus the music...

You can see Viva's shadow.  I have the back door open with baby gate across the door.  She hears something outside that cause her emotional discomfort, growls and then comes to me.  This is excellent - she is able to think (not going over threshold), offer a different behavior (coming to me & looking at me) and is reinforced (with food).

Another practice time and no growl! Viva again is making excellent choices and reinforced for behaviors that I'm looking for.

Catty was around for this training time. She was reinforced with a treat for standing still while I was working with Viva!



  1. Lots of great behavior going on from all three dogs - more progress!

    A quick random question for you - where do you get your 50 foot leashes? The only ones we can seem to find are the bright orange, thick ones used for training bird dogs...seems like a bit much for our 17-pound ratties.

    1. The line I have is from amazon - it's called Lightest Long Line Ever, 50' by Sarah Hodgson. She also has a 25' long line. I started with the 25' which took me some time to get use to. Then I moved up to the 50'.

  2. Perfect - I found them. Thanks!