Creating kinder, gentler experiences for pets


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Dog Behavior Topic

Positive Human Leadership

"Learn to Earn" Training Technique

Q:  How do dogs "earn" food, toys, attention, and anything else dogs value?
A:  The dog earns these valuables by working.

Q:  What kinds of work can a dog do?
A:  Dog work is any time the dog is following an instruction. The work is only limited by the pet parents ability to clearly teach dogs what very specific words and/or hand signals mean.

Q: What is the "Learn to Earn" training technique?
A: Dogs need employment to ward off boredom so now your dog needs to learn - with your help - how to earn everything! each your dog how to "sit" before attention, food, treats, going through doors, getting toys, etc. 

"Learn to Earn" as a Behavioral Therapy

During the Invisible Dog stage of behavioral therapy, a pet earns visibility by learning to earn attention. Most pet parents see immediate results when they begin Invisible Dog  instead of non-stop pet pampering. When the dog "tests out" of Invisible Dog, the next behavioral treatment step is called, Learn to Earn.  

The dog earns visibility during hand feeding. Once the dog readily accepts kibbles gently, one at a time, Learn to Earn means the dog begins to "work" for each kibble.

Begin Learn to Earn by teaching the dog to quickly and happily follow simple instructions such as sit. When the dog responds consistently to the verbal cue, move the exercise to a different room of the house, or add new instructions.

Teach one instruction (verbal cue word) at a time. As weeks go by, teach other words such as: come, wait, down, quiet, inside, outside, take it, leave it, etc.

Caution: because we love our dogs a great deal, our natural tendency is to pamper them. We think it's cute when they show us what they want so we respond by giving in to them. Dogs learn they can teach us when we respond to their cues such as giving food when they rattle a dish, petting them in response to a nudge, letting them out a door when they bark or scratch on it. Unfortunately, our desire to simply take care of our dogs often leads to our dogs developing unwanted behaviors such as excessive attention-seeking.

Even after your pet has reached the plateau stage of a behavioral treatment program and is doing great, continue learn to earn to maintain progress and reinforce your role as the teacher and your pet's role as student.

If not making progress or find yourself using the same verbal cues over and over without progressing to new words, consider a pet behavior history analysis, a private in-home training visit, or group dog training classes.

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