Saturday, July 3, 2010

What Do You Mean No?

No. A simple two letter word carries so much energy. No, you didn’t get the promotion. No, I won’t go out with you. No, you can’t do that.

We are scared by the word from infancy. Doubtless we heard our first no shrieked by a panicked mom.

Energetically there is a thin space between fear and anger, both are dark energy. We protect our dogs from the real world school of hard knocks where the no they encounter is brutal.

No is a fact of life. Lately there has been much discussion about this highly charged word on one of my lists. It has been referred to as an information vacuum, as crushing a dog’s delicate self esteem or as being vague.

Perhaps we are letting our own emotional relationship to this word rule our thinking? The concept we need to teach our dogs is to stop what you are doing; right? It’s useful. It is absolutely necessary.

Once we have discharged the negative energy of the word, how do we teach a dog to stop doing whatever it is we don’t want?

So often I find it preferable to just redirect the dog’s attention. Is it a lesson the dog needs to learn or is it something we won’t be dealing with again; that’s a judgment call.

Redirecting your dog’s attention without making a big deal about what the dog is currently focused on is a handy skill.

Learning the concept of stop what you are doing is easier when we give feedback.

The first time Karen Pryor and Gary Wilkes gave a clicker training workshop in the Chicago area, I learned so much about how feedback affects what we do. We broke into groups. One person from the group went out of the room while the group decided on a task to be completed upon our return. It was a game of hot and cold. If we guessed correctly, doing any part of the task we were to get a click from the group.

The most extraordinary thing happened, the more behaviors I threw out there, the more clicks I got symbolizing that I was doing the right thing, when the task was accomplished everybody clicked and cheered.

Positive motivation training with me as the test subject, I was so excited led to the completion of my task without a correction. I was giddy at how easily I achieved assigned task with only positive feedback. I couldn’t wait to try this on a dog.

The group was every bit as thrilled as to how quickly I did the right thing. Someone said what I did as in what the task was, which surprised the day light out of me. That was not what I thought I had done that pleased them or received the clicks.

No, wrong answer, stop what you are doing, not it; any of that feedback would have helping me zero in what they wanted

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post today. This "shaping" has been on my mind lately. I am attending a 4 day camp at Say Yes dog training in Canada this summer. There is no "no" training. No lure training... Actually 2 days of the camp are called "Advances in Dog Training formerly known as Lurer's Anonymous". My new puppy is nearing 3 weeks old and my challenge is to train a puppy without luring. Shaping all the way. I do intend to "install" a stop what you are doing noise. (I love the one I learned from you) That will be the only "correction" this puppy will know if I succeed in my challenge. There will of course be redirection for behaviors I don't want repeated as well. Should be an interesting journey and I am very excited. I have had great success shaping behaviors with my older "kids", there is something amazing about a dog trying hard to figure something out. It's like a dog figuring out to steal food out of the garbage... seems the lesson lasts longer when they have to think.