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  • Writer's picturekier scott

Happiness Matters

Most agree that happy people are typically more productive then unhappy people. It’s one of our core philosophies of our democratic lifestyle. People can be affective through motivation of fear but they are significantly more so through the motivation of happiness or ambition. This happens to be another parallel between life and dog training. As so often is the case.

It should not come as any surprise that we as trainers should take our dogs happiness seriously. We should monitor how they’re feeling and adjust our training to maintain at least a baseline of positivity. Yet that isn’t to say there are moments of discomfort. It does mean that discomfort should simply be as a result of consequences to actions. Exactly as we parent our children. We want our children to be as happy as possible as they fulfil they’re utmost potential. All the while minding they’re responsibilities. If you feel your dog getting miserable, change things up. Go to a new location; try a different drill; train less and let work more. Do whatever you need to do to get them back on track. Their effort will match their enjoyment. Yet that’s not exactly why I wanted to write this blog. The reality is that particular philosophy should go both ways. Your happiness (at least in a work setting) should be at minimum equally important to the dog. If you’re dog starts misbehaving and it upsets you and you communicate that to your dog with no reaction, that’s a problem. And that reaction actually should at least be a “my bad” or better a; “please forgive me for I have sinned!” What it should not look like is a dog that is laying down doing its best impression of a teenager suffering through a lecture. Or even worse, a dog that you have now stepped to but is simply running around to get by you back to the stock. A dog needs to feel bad about making you upset. Just as you should be conscientious of making your dog upset. Especially if you expect to be able to control that dog at any kind of distance. At the end of the day what we do is a relationship and that means it’s a two way street. Your dogs emotions and reactions should warrant a change in you but even more vital is your emotions and reactions needs to warrant a change in your dog. If you don’t get that from your dog, do whatever you have to to get it. A telltale sign of whether or not you should up the anti is getting home frustrated and being completely defeated that you are not progressing. If that is your scenario then ask yourself “when I chastise my dog, does it say sorry?” If the answer is no then you’re happiness obviously doesn’t matter to your dog. And if that’s the case, stop whatever training you’re doing and fix that immediately. Don’t be cruel but do whatever trick you can think of until you get a dog the understands the difference between you being pleased and upset.

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