Greetings Pandemic Friends,
I do not know how you are feeling about it, but I am very ready for “The Corona” to go away!
I have been thinking about choices lately. With everything going on, do we get to have the right to choose whether we go out into public or quarantine? Do we get to choose what to eat for our meal whether we order out for contactless delivery, order curbside pick up or cook our own meals?
Well, yes, we do have the ability to choose for ourselves what we would like to do!
And you know what, our dogs have the right to make choices too. Many of you have heard me say, on many occasions, our dogs have freedom of choice. They can choose to not walk up to a person they are frightened of. They can choose if they are comfortable going in and out of a crate. They can choose to take a treat from you or not.
Life is full of choices for humans and for our dogs!
I never force a dog to do something they do not want to do. If the dog tells me they are frightened, or they do not like something, I want to respect what they tell me. All dogs do not have to like each other. All humans do not like each other, why is it any different for dogs?
Some dogs do not like Uncle Joe. A lot of people think Uncle Joe has bad juju. So why would we demand that our dog like Uncle Joe?
And there are plenty of dogs that do not like the vacuum. So then why are they forced to sit in a room while we vacuum in there? They do not need to have a relationship with the vacuum. Allow them to choose where they would rather be. I have dogs that HATE the vacuum. So they go outside when the vacuum comes of the closet.
In the same vein, I found this article that Pat Miller did a couple of years ago. I find it to still be relevant today. Try this game with your dog. You might be surprised at the outcome.
Excerpted from an article by Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA
Our dogs have very little opportunity for choice in their lives in today’s world. We control what and when they eat, when they play, when and where they can go to the bathroom, and where they sleep.
There’s a good likelihood that our dogs’ lack of choice is at least partly responsible for the amount of stress we are seeing in many of our canine companions these days, and some of the resulting behavior challenges. Imagine how stressed you would be if your life was as tightly controlled as your dog’s!
You can introduce choice to your dogs by teaching a “You Choose” cue:
- Select a very high-value and very low-value treat.
- Show high-value treat to your dog and name it: Meat, Beef, Chicken, High, etc. Let him eat it. Repeat several times.
- Show the low-value treat to your dog and name it: Kibble, Milkbone, Low, etc. Let him eat it. Repeat several times.
- Now tell him to “Wait,” say your high-value name, put the high-value treat in one bowl and show it to him in one hand, then name your low-value treat, put it in a different bowl, and show it to him in your other hand. Place both bowls on the floor at your feet at the same time, about six inches apart. Repeat “Wait” if needed, to keep him from eating it. (If your dog doesn’t have a good “Wait” behavior, either have someone hold his collar or leash, or teach him to “Wait.”
- Now say “You choose!” “Pick one!” (or whatever you want your “Choice” cue to be) and invite him to choose a bowl. While he eats that treat, quickly pick up the other bowl so he doesn’t eat that treat also.
- Repeat numerous times, putting high-value/low-value randomly on alternate sides, until it’s clear he’s realizing he can choose his preference. (You might be surprised to discover what you think is higher value for him – may not be!)