Owner Absent Behaviors
OK so just what do I mean by “owner absent” behaviors? Well they are behaviors that occur when the owner is not around! Now let’s talk about why that is even important? Well when a behavior happens when we are not around that behavior is getting reinforced and you don’t even realize it… Lets look at barking as an example:
You leave for work around 7:30am and get home around let’s say 5:15 pm… during that time at work here is what has happened….
- 8:15 trash truck comes by, dog barks for about 4 minutes
- 9:22 your dog sees a squirrel (through the open curtains you leave open every day), dog barks for about 6 minutes
- 10:30 UPS drive runs up to the front door rings doorbell and leaves package on front porch, dog barks for about 8 minutes
- 12:45 door to door home security salesman rings the doorbell 8 different times and waits patiently for you to come to door, dog barks for 14 minutes…
- 1:30 Amazon delivery, dog barks for about 6 minutes
- 2:43 Dog again notices neighbor walking dog through the open curtains and barks for about 11 minutes
- 3:38 neighbor kids come by looking for your kids to play outside and ring the door about 22 times and the dog barks for another 12 minutes
- 4:45 to 5:15 you dog waits at the window for you to get home and barks at every moving thing they notice for 30 minutes (till you get home) ….
If my math is right your dog has been practicing, perfecting and honing his barking skills for 91 minutes and he does this every day you are at work, going to the grocery store, out with friends…. You get the picture…
Now ask yourself how many minutes a day do you practice getting your dog to bark less or do something other than barking (this is the idea of a replacement behavior, click here for that blog) … The fact is that people never consider how much time the dog gets to practice unwanted behaviors when you are not around… As dog trainers we must explain and show how “owner absent behaviors affect your practice and even having to change your routines when not around (Using a crate, closing the curtains…)
So next time you get frustrated with your lack of progress, in dog training, think about your dog’s behavior when you are not around and consider how it might be affecting your performance. I have even had clients set up video of their dogs so we can review that behavior and see how we can use it in our training!!!!
Hopefully this helps you wrap your head around the entirety of the training process not the just the time you practice!!!!
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