In dog training, we always remind our clients to reward for positive behavior. I remind myself routinely as well when training and also when things in life test me.
As humans, we sometimes tend to focus on the behaviors and things we don’t want – how to get our dogs to not jump on us, how we don’t want something in our personal life to happen, etc. – and those are valuable things to us because we don’t want them, whatever that may be. But honestly, how often do we focus on the positive? I do want this or that to happen. I do want my dog to sit when greeting people. How often do we capture the moments when our dogs are just lying quietly and being lovely (or posing beautifully like Schatzie here)? Try to notice how often you reward your dog big time for when he is being calm, soft and exhibiting behavior you want. What do you see? How often do you see it? Capture the moments when your dog spontaneously sits or is lying down in his bed being calm whether you’ve asked for it or not.
One of my favorite books that touches on this subject relating to training animals (and humans!) is Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot the Dog”. It talks about the motivating factors of positive reinforcement whether it is your spouse, friend, parent, child, coworker, dog, cat or bird. It’s a wonderful read for anyone interested.
Take some time this week and try to focus on the positive. You’ll notice things seem calmer and happier, both in your life and your dog’s life.