I got bit.
Yeah, me, Mr. Amazing Dog Training Man with cat like reflexes from countless encounters with aggressive and fearful dogs.
If you decide to become a dog trainer and especially if you decide to work with aggressive dogs you have to understand that you will eventually get bit.
The worst for me was years ago with a dog named Scar. Can you believe that? Scar chewed me up pretty good but with time and experience you get good at protecting yourself and reading dogs.
So the other day I start doing some in home training with a client and her GSD. The entire lesson went fine. No signs of aggression and then as I am walking out the door the dog bolts and in the blink of an eye bites the back of my boot.
WOW, did I feel like a chump.
What would you do if you were faced with this problem? We have four behavior quadrants and need to STOP a behavior so let’s look at our options:
Positive reinforcement - Can’t use this quadrant. This is for REINFORCING behaviors, making them stronger and we need to stop a behavior so PR is out.
Negative Punishment - This quadrant is when you take something away from the dog. Putting the dog in a crate would be an example. We could do this but would it take care of the behavior? It would manage the behavior but the dog would have to be put into a crate every time someone came over. Let’s look at the next quadrant.
Negative Reinforcement - The best way to explain Negative Reinforcement is with the word Relief. The buzzer that goes off in your car until you put your seatbelt on is an example of Negative Reinforcement. The way you get relief from the buzzer is by buckling up. This could work but I think our best course of action would be:
Positive Punishment - Let’s apply a negative consequence when the behavior happens so the chance of the behavior happening again is less likely. And that is EXACTLY what I did. I taught the word “NO” and the behavior went bye bye.
Here is the interesting part to this story. The dog we are talking about would bark uncontrollably in the car. Would steal food off the counters and could not be walked around other dogs.
Unacceptable behaviors are now a memory. When it comes to dog training you have to understand and know when to use positive AND negative consequences.
There are some very popular dog trainers and a whole movement of dog trainers trying to convince dog owners that you can never, under any circumstances use any type of negative consequence.
To really have a well-behaved dog you need to teach “YES” and “NO.”
You can learn both over at The Dog Training Inner Circle. One of the most popular videos is “How To Teach Your Dog NO” and you can see it when you go here NEXT: