Trained With Kindness Trained with Kindness

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Reverse Dog Training

A Fresh Perspective for Solving Common Problems

A few excerpts from the book illustrate its helpful writing style and easy-to-follow format.

Excerpted from Part I: Reversing Basic Philosophies — Dog’s Mind:

Common belief: I can tell my dog knows what he’s doing is “wrong” because he looks “guilty,” even before I say or do anything.

Reverse reality: Since dogs have no sense of “right” or wrong,” they certainly can’t experience guilt over doing something they shouldn’t. What your dog does “know” is he should repeat behaviors that work for him (e.g. tearing up pillows is fun and relieves stress!). He also knows you are mad when you come in with your mad face and talk in your mad voice (“What did you do?!”), so he offers appeasement gestures (the “guilty” look) to you in hopes you will calm down and stop being so threatening.

Owners will often assume the dog “knows” because he will often slink away the moment you come in, before you even discover the indiscretion. That “pre-reaction” does not come from realizing he’s committed a crime; rather, it comes from learning. Dogs know only the present, not the past or future, but they can learn. That process goes something like this: “Every time Mom comes home and there is a torn pillow on the floor, she is mad and bad things happen to me, so I better do my best to calm her down/get out of here till she calms down.”

Unfortunately, the dog cannot make the connection that if he hadn’t destroyed the pillow in the first place, the bad things wouldn’t happen.

Helpful side note: When your dog looks “guilty,” he could actually be scared. NEVER correct a dog when he is scared.

Excerpted from Part II: Reverse Problems by Reversing Techniques — Greeting People, Dogs:

Common belief: When visitors enter my house, my dog is an idiot. She barks/jumps/whines/nips/grabs clothing. I yell, try to distract her, tell her it’s OK, but nothing works. I have to put her in her crate.

Reverse Reality: Using the Reverse Principle of giving attention to the behavior you want repeated as a starting point, let’s examine what behavior got rewarded here. When your dog is barking/jumping/whining/nipping/grabbing, how much attention is she getting for that? Yelling, it’s OK, distracting (Come, Sit, Go to your bed, etc.) + lots of eye contact and physical contact = ATTENTION. “Bad” behaviors reinforced!