Reinforcing behaviours we want to see more of!
I posted on Tuesday about how we need to consciously reinforce the behaviours we like (as opposed to punishing them!) - this shouldn't just apply at home or in a training session, but on walks and any outings (even to the vet). I am not sure why it is such a psychological hurdle for humans to accept that we SHOULD ALWAYS have food or another STRONG reinforcer on outings with our dogs. For some reason people seem to find this horrifying: "You mean I'll always have to take treats with me?" I guess my question in response should be "Well how is not having any with you working out?" I always know the answer already because conversations like this ALWAYS take place as a result of clients moaning that their dogs don't respond well on walks.
The video below is an example of the kind of SIMPLE but VALUABLE stuff we can reinforce on walks. I have used Rosie for this video, as Cruz is focused more on my husband in this particular scenario, as when we're together Jonathan generally looks after Cruz and he has the ball - which is Cruz's most powerful reinforcer! In the video I reinforce things like checking in with me, waiting for me after I've stopped to pick up after the dogs and made a trip to the bin, coming back spontaneously after exploring and whistle recall. I also heavily reinforce loose lead walking and focus in the road, as there is sometimes a very barky dog we have to pass and this ensures that we can cope easily passing this distraction.
Notice how little I speak to Rosie. I'm not telling her what to do all the time - I'm just spontaneously reinforcing the behaviours I like and I want to see more of. AND IT WORKS!!
Please excuse the shaky footage!