We all know clichés about dogs.
We love the memes and cartoons about a dog’s perspective. Watching videos of dogs doing crazy or amazing things makes us laugh. But let’s just stop and think about a dog’s life for a moment. Have you ever done that
Dogs communicate all the time. We know their body language when they are happy and satisfied. We know when they are calm and sleeping. We understand their body language when they are excited. We can even say most of the time that they are scared. You have to admit that some of your dog’s behaviors not only baffle you, but drive you crazy.
Now we all know that puppies are going to be puppies and are in the infant / learning stage of their lives. This is the time when it is crucial that they be desensitized to certain things that can cause anxiety, including other people, other dogs or animals, children, loud noises, and places like the veterinarian and other public areas.
You were in obedience classes. You had a trainer come to your home. You have gone through all of the activities where your dog should do what you want your dog to do, but instead they are doing exactly the opposite. They know they know what they are doing is wrong. It could even be behavior that they didn’t do in the first few years of life but suddenly developed.
Enter Billy Groom.
The most mind-boggling concept came in the first few minutes of the interview when she said, “It’s not the problem or the behavioral problem that determines the technique or methodology that’s best, it’s the dog.”
She went on to explain: “All trainers deal with the same issues. We all make dogs jump on people, react on a leash, fear aggression, do house training, and so on. Operant conditioning works best when you encourage desired behavior or discourage undesirable behavior. It goes on the platform that the dog doesn’t know right about wrong. Or a dog who has a personality that wants to do the right thing but is just afraid he will want to do what you ask him to do. ”
The groom was very specific in her formulation when she said, “The reason the operants’ conditioning sometimes falls short is because the dog knows right about wrong and chooses not to.” It was at this point that I understood that operant conditioning, in all its facets, is great as a method, but is not appropriate or the best approach for a dog that chooses the wrong behavior.
Can a dog choose?
The groom explained numerous examples of dog behavior where the dog would not know something was wrong in a situation and how operative conditioning would change that behavior. She used the exact same examples on an older dog where the dog absolutely knew the behavior was wrong but would do it anyway.
This is where the concept of cognitive behavioral therapy comes in. A person can eat these third and fourth pieces of cake if they know it is not healthy. If they know and do it anyway, that is a cognitive function. Exactly the same goes for dogs. If your dog knows that lifting the lid on the trash is wrong, but he gets in, eats what he wants, and still spreads all of the contents around the house, he has given it some thought. You chose this action regardless of the consequences. This is a cognitive decision your dog made.
“You can always try doing standard operant conditioning on a behavior to see if it works. If the dog wants to do the behavior, or needs to learn the behavior, it should work. If it doesn’t work, it’s not your fault, ”Billy said emphatically. “It’s not the dog’s fault. It’s like kids when you have two kids in the same house, with exactly the same environment and upbringing, values and all that. One makes sure that you take their allowance away if they don’t clean their room, but the other couldn’t care less if they don’t get their allowance, they don’t want to clean their room and they won’t. ”
In either situation, a different approach must be taken to find out what is going on. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used in either case as it changes perception to change behavior.
“It has nothing to do with rewarding good behavior or discouraging undesirable behavior. You are looking for the reason for the behavior,” emphasized the groom.
Why aren’t all dog trainers trained in both operant conditioning and cognitive behavioral therapy?
The groom discovered this method over the past 34 years while working with thousands of dogs, first in Toronto and now in Regina. She started seeing how it worked, documenting what she was doing and what success she was getting, then reaching out to cognitive behavioral therapists to learn more. Every cognitive behavioral therapist / psychologist she has worked with has agreed that it works fine in dogs when operant conditioning does not. Dogs can think. They have the genetic make-up to think cognitively (over six months).
Why is this not a common solution?
Mindset is the answer.
Groom developed the methodology and continues to work with over 150 unique customers per year, but there is only one of them. After reaching out to many of the influencers who she believes can best help her get this into the hands, minds and hearts of dog trainers and dog lovers everywhere – she closed with the response that dog trainers never get involved become.
If it works why not buy in? If it prevents a dog from surrendering and possibly even being euthanized for bad behavior, why not? What if we could save thousands of dogs? If you and your dog could live happy, healthy lives growing relationally and cognitively together, why not?
“Operant conditioning coaches have a hard time understanding that it’s not about rewards. Because this is not in their training, they don’t understand it and most will say that it can’t work or it can’t be right. “Billy answered my question and went on,” It’s not that I never use rewards, but I don’t rely on rewards, I rely on the skill that the reward taught. And the ability can be transferred to any situation. ”
To learn more and to help the canine world open up to this new way of thinking and training, visit: www.upwarddogology.com. Contact Groom for more information and to show your support.
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UPWARD stands for: Urban People With Adopted & Rescued Dogs.