dog barking kiss dog trainingNow that you have park it down and it is working during dinner and when new people enter the house, you are ready for the graduate school level of park it! Let me ask you a question, would you be interested in having your doorbell be the cue for Fido to park it? Think about it, when you say park it, the dog goes and lays down on his or her blanket or pillow, right? What if we add another cue, in this case a bell that would mean the same as the words park it! Sound too good to be true? Well it isn’t, read on and make Pavlov proud! Classical conditioning or Pavlovian psychology simply works off the idea of associations. We are going to do nothing but pair another association to the verbal cue “park it”. If this sounds a little fuzzy, go back and review my posts on terminology and it will clear right back up!

Needless to say, all we need is the new cue (doorbell) and the cue that already works (park it) and of course the behavior (lay on your bed). I know this is going to sound crazy, but I want you to go directly to Home Depot and buy a wireless (remote) door bell and head back to the house, ‘cause we are going to have some real fun! We are going to do what in dog training we call combining cues. We will teach Fido that the noise of your new wireless door bell means the same thing as the words park it. Why a wireless doorbell? Because you can cheat! Yeah I said it…CHEAT! Remember that when you combine cues, you must lead with the unknown cue (go review the post Training Terminology 2 – Cues) which is the nonverbal cue (the door bell ) and follow it immediately with the spoken cue park it. Over a period of time (probably 4-6 weeks of 15 minutes a day practice) you will have a dog that instead of charging the door barking when he hears the doorbell, he will go to his or her bed and wait for the next command!

This all seems pretty simple, but why you ask, the wireless door bell? Because I said you could CHEAT, it makes practice easier, and you can do it yourself. How? Keep it Simple Stupid! You can put the ringer in your pocket and have the door bell with you while you practice! And you don’t need your spouse, neighbor or kids to help with this one since you’ve got the remote ringer! Trust me, it works. All you are doing is basic behavior theory! As I said, Pavlov would be so proud.

If you really wrap your head around this idea, you can easily see how many problem behaviors can be fixed! We are always ready to let a trainer know what our dog is doing wrong (what we don’t like!) but spend very little time on what it is that we would rather do (what we would love to happen!) This is exactly the $64,000 question in dog training. What it is we want? Don’t waste time trying to get inside your dogs head, or asking the philosophical question “What is motivating my dog to behave this way?” Focus on just two things!

What is the behavior I don’t like (what I want to go away) and what is the behavior I want to see (what I want to reinforce.) Do this and you will be on your way to becoming an incredible dog trainer, not to mention a wonderful dog owner! I’d like to mention at this point, this idea does not end with dogs; it works on kids, spouses and even the mean and nasty boss! You cannot change an existing behavior without knowing what different behavior it is that you would like to see! The next blog will take this idea into another common problem dog behavior…The dog that jumps all over you!!!!

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