Been spending a lot of time over on Aquidneck Island.
You see, next month we are going to start dog training classes at The Wiggle Room.
I was listening to the radio on Monday and learned the Rhode Island governor signed into law that there will be a $1000 fine for littering and a whopping $5000 fine for a 2nd offense.
Many of the talking heads on the Rhode Island radio stations were cheering about how great this is.
What was I thinking?
Glad you asked because looking at the world through the lens of a dog trainer gives you a different perspective on things – especially when it comes to punishment.
Now – slow down! Before you call me a mamby, pamby, hold hands and let’s all get along type, let me splain why I don’t think it is the greatest idea.
First, like you, I HATE people that litter and have to use some deep breathing exercises that my good friend Gena taught me to calm down.
Let’s keep going…
In order for punishment to work, FOUR steps have to happen. Here they are:
1. The punishment has to happen every time the behavior occurs.
2. The punishment should not be associated with the punisher.
3. The punishment should be big – meaning that it should stop the behavior immediately.
4. The punishment must happen immediately.
This is why I am leery of using or recommending punishment to change behavior. Punishment often teaches the subject (dog or human) to get good at avoiding punishment.
Do speeding tickets prevent speeding? NO. People just get better at avoiding getting tickets. They use radar detectors and there are now apps that you can get on your phone to alert you of where speed traps are.
What happens when you are speeding down the road and see a cop? You slow down. Once he is out of sight, you hit the accelerator.
Punishment is tricky to use, but used correctly, it can be very effective to change behavior.
Think fire – you don’t have to stick your hand in too many times to find out that you 1. Get burnt every time. 2. The pain is associated with the fire and no third party. 3. It’s big because it hurts like hell. And 4. The fire does not issue you a ticket that you have two weeks to pay.
Which is why I don’t use aversive collars to teach a dog to walk with me. I don’t want my dog stressed and hectic walking next to me.
Anyway, if you’d like to teach your dog to walk on leash using my step by step system you can sign up for a class at The Wiggle Room.