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Trying to change your dog’s behavior? Owners “are half of this story,” says author

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In his new book “Meet Your Dog: The Game-Changing Guide to Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior, canine behavior consultant Kim brophey puts forward his system for understanding the factors that shape the way dogs act. She shares her strategies with Here Nowis Jeremy Hobson.

  • Scroll down to read an excerpt from “Meet Your Dog”

Understanding Your Puppy: The LEGS System

“‘L’ is learning, and learning is your dog’s experiences and upbringing in life. So often that’s the main cultural value we have, that’s’ it all. how you raise them. ‘ They are tabula rasa puppies, virgin puppies, and we can just make them whatever we want them to be.The outside world of the dog. What happens at any given time and in everyday life for our dogs when they encounter the world they share with us. And then the genetics, the DNA that made the dog inside and out. What we can see and what we can’t see either, the software genetics. And then the ego, the dog’s unique inner world. His health, age, sex, development and then his unique qualities in a million. as an individual. “

Tips for socializing

  • The first 16 weeks are critical, although this time frame is flexible between different breeds and different dogs.

“We’ve kind of had the approach, like, the more the merrier, and we’re just going to flood our dogs with all of these sensory experiences, and so they’ll love them. And the reality is, is that for some dogs, the opposite is in fact true, and that exposing a certain type of dog or a certain dog personality to these experiences, if we do not watch and observe carefully, these socialization experiences can in fact be harmful to our dogs. “

What if you make a mistake?

“We think of learning as if it’s this mechanism that operates outside of evolution. And the reality is that learning is the cogs and wheels of evolution, because if things can’t adapt to the circumstances, if they cannot change their behaviors and make different choices based on the different pressures, then they are doomed to fail. Thus, a certain behavior with which the dog might be born under his genetic software, because this particular behavior has been reinforced for so many previous generations, that in subsequent generations it is going to die hard. It is going to be very difficult to change something that has a long history of reinforcement. Now when it s is something we’ve done with our dog, or an interaction we’ve had, or a habit that has just set up in the dog’s life with us, then, yes – if we change the circumstances, if we let’s change the environment, if we change the responses and the results the dog gets, if we work to change the ideas that they’re bringing to the table, then those things can change. But you have to be really realistic about your expectations throughout this process, and also take full responsibility, because we’ve kind of started this conversation on this point, we’re half of this story. We need to realize that what we want them to do is one thing, but what are we actually doing to create and facilitate that behavior? We need to change both of our behaviors, simultaneously, in most cases. “

What to do if your dog …

  • Hunt a squirrel: Instead of punishing, chase your dog! “What we do is we use the motivation that the dog already has as reinforcement of the behavior we want. So we are not going to compete with him, with other punishers or reinforcers, then the dog comes to. And then together you can hunt the squirrel in the tree. [laughs]”
  • Beg at the table while you eat: “You want to make sure that you set up the environment so that the dog is not reinforced for this behavior. So if the dog is able to put leftovers under the table, it will accidentally reinforce this behavior. Tie the dog across the room, a few feet away. And if he’s calm throughout the meal, at the end of the meal, he might have table scraps. “

More tips for taking care of your dog

Book excerpt: “Meet your dog”

by Kim Brophey

Good intentions

Dogs have been the practical companion of man for thousands of years. Since the dawn of civilization, humans have influenced and altered the behavior of dogs for our own purposes, both individually and genetically. Through artificial selection – the deliberate reproduction of individuals with desirable characteristics – we have designed master hunters, trackers, cattle keepers, shepherds, rats, personal protectors, gladiators, baby warmers and companions. If we needed a dog to help us track and hunt big game in subzero temperatures or a heat resistant partner to move cattle across miles of plains, we designed just that. Swapping one dog for another – and assuming one would work just as well as another if trained and groomed in a certain way – would have resulted in fruitless hunts in the Arctic. and the slain cattle in the meadow.

Consider for a moment that this is precisely the situation we so often create with our approach to dogs today, placing them in our homes as if they were interchangeable. We often assume that they all need similar amounts of exercise, affection, health care, and food to fit our lives.

When these dogs do not meet our expectations, the consequences can be serious for everyone. Personal and community safety is compromised when we unwittingly prepare them for failure; and dogs’ lives are threatened when owners give up. Despite all our good intentions, we keep putting a square dog in a round hole, and we marvel at the consequences.

Behaviors that were highly desirable to our ancestors and were intentionally developed, such as killing small mammals and keeping livestock, are now extremely problematic natural urges as they manifest in modern conditions.

We can all appreciate the inevitable consequences of asking a free-spirited, world-traveling human to settle down for a quiet life at an office job. We know what happens when we try to change a person into someone they are not. Some terms are negotiable in a relationship, some are not. Sure, you love your dog, but there’s more. The real question you need to ask yourself is whether this adorable dog with the long ears at your feet is compatible with your own needs and limitations.

This could to be a crossover love story between a busy modern career woman and a hungry cowboy from the open lineup. What is more likely, however, is that you and your dog have had a misunderstanding. You might just need a good old-fashioned reality check to move forward.

As a modern dog lover, you’ve probably never had the chance to take a good, honest look at your dog. This book can be that new pair of detail-focused glasses for you, a crash course in canine science to prepare you for the pursuit of dog love and all the many happy four-legged adventures to come. . You can navigate and enjoy a healthy relationship. You can finally meet your dog.

Extract from MEET YOUR DOG by Kim Brophey. Copyright © 2018 by Kim Brophey. Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books.


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