Access Asks…Consequences Maintain.

There are mysteries regarding behavior and training and then there is everything else. Let’s focus on the everything else.  I’m called into my clients homes to figure out how to address problem behaviors from one or several dogs at a time.  These range from the usual like jumping and nipping, barking and lunging, to peeing and destroying property. Most of the time the owner and I agree that its a simple case of boredom or frustration, fear or anxiety, maybe even excitement and arousal. While we have labeled part of the problem accurately most often there is a bigger issue.  What really lured the behavior out of the dog was something so simple. Access.

There was access to guests and food for the pilfering jumpy dogs.  There were doors open and lack of barriers and gates for the dogs learning to potty in an appropriate spot.  Dogs are left sitting on couches looking out windows when the owners are away barking at whatever triggers their attention whether they desired it or wanted it to go away. The harness they loved so much was left on offering itself as a lovely chew toy.  The dog bit the neighbor because no muzzle was worn.

All of these situations could have been prevented and if had the owners had understood that the access to the people, food, place to potty, and passers-by was the beginning of all their problems.  Allowing too much access begs for curiosity and heightened senses to lead most dogs into undesired situations.  The consequences there after maintain them. For instance, the social contact and attention for jumping up, less anxiety with the view off the couch, relieving the bladder regardless of location, the taste of the food when found, or the fun that was had sniffing around the neighborhood after slipping out the door.

Remember what to focus on the next time you have a problem.  Where was the access? What reinforced the behavior after said access was granted.  To remedy almost any training situation we can begin by looking to remove the reinforcer or the access to it. Problem behavior often extinguishes itself with patience and consistency and solid communication.  That is the environment that good things grow in.

Be Well and Wag Tail,

Bryndon Golya