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Training and Behavior Modification Is A Long Term Process

If you’re interested in changing your dog’s behavior, it’s important to have realistic goals and expectations. Whether you’re interested in better manners or helping your dog feel better about company coming over, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. The biggest misconception with animal training is that eventually behaviors no longer need to be rewarded and those behaviors will still continue. Basically, make sure they’re doing it fluently and then go ahead and stop the rewards. Once a dog “knows it” they’ll continue to obey you. Dog’s don’t listen to people unless they’re motivated to do so. Meaning, if a human provides good or bad consequences, a dog will respond. A human that provides no consequences is irrelevant when it comes to behaviors. Behaviors that are rewarded will get stronger. As they’re getting stronger, you can ask for more of that behavior before providing a reward. Overtime, you’ll notice that your dog is willing to do it for longer because they’ve learned that’s what it takes to get rewarded. Behaviors that are not rewarded will get weaker. Overtime, you’ll notice that your dog is responding less when you’re asking for behaviors. Why? The cue given used to be one of the first indicators that a reward was coming. As the cue is repeated and no rewards come, dogs lose their association with the cue and start to tune it out. Dogs aren’t being stubborn when this happens. They’re actually being normal animals. When it comes to helping dogs overcome their fears, the same is true. If you’re working hard on getting your dog to feel better about company coming over, you’ll need to continue to follow that plan. This is especially true with new people. Dogs are great at discriminating and poor at generalizing. What this means is that your dog can build a positive association with a visitor that comes over, but it’s unlikely the association built with that one person is going to spread to another new person coming over. Dogs that are weary of people coming over need the same plan followed with the new people. And again, this is likely going to be happening for the long haul. So sit back and enjoy the training process with your dog. It can be challenging at times but it does get easier as time goes on.

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