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Is there magic in dog training?

Some trainers will tell you to make a specific sound like growl like a dog or make a snake-like hiss to get a dog to stop doing something.

They will tell you it is the sound that makes the dog stop as if the sound has some magic property.

Alas, there is no magic sound out there that will stop a dog or make a dog behave one way or the other.

However, there really is magic in dog training.  It is in the simple but very powerful premise of A-B-C and all living creatures learn behavior via this simple yet powerful premise:

A = Antecedent

B = Behavior

C = Consequence

In layman’s terms the (A) can be a sound that we make (it could also be other things but that’s for another day).

It could be a cue word like sit.

It could be a sound like “uh-uh” or “uh-oh.”

No matter what it is – it only becomes magic when there is a consistent consequence that follows a behavior.

All living things will repeat behaviors or not repeat behaviors based on the consequences – rewarding or not rewarding.

So if you offer a “magic” sound like “uh-uh” when a dog is jumping on you then you stand there looking away from the dog or just walk on by – you have offered a tremendous immediate consequence – No Reward and No Attention.  These are two of the most powerful consequences you can offer a dog, and the great thing is that the most effective consequences are both pain and fear free!

Maybe the dog jumps again because jumping is such a self reinforcing behavior and you offer the same sequence of “uh-uh” with No Reward and No Attention.  Dog learns that this behavior (B) = (jumping) just doesn’t pay – so they choose another behavior – maybe sitting or just standing there by you.

This is magic step one:  the dog has chosen a different better behavior

Step two is the big one…

As soon as dog chooses another Behavior (B) that you like you MUST offer a consequence that dog likes.  This will ensure that dog learns that “uh-uh” means – choose something better then you will get rewarded.

Magic!!!

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