Any animal can be motivated to listen or pay attention through controlling access to resources in their environment.
- Find out what your dog truly likes. It may be food, play, affection, a toy, a game of tug of war, a walk, getting up on your lap, going outside through a door, going inside through a door, chasing a ball, chewing on a shoe, sniffing a fire hydrant. What they like may change from one moment to the next.
- Then, control access to the things your dog likes.
- Provide access to the things they want in exchange for the behavior you want, such as paying attention to you, sitting politely, etc.
The things your dog likes may change from day to day or from hour to hour, similar to your preferences.
- The food they liked yesterday may not be so exciting if they have a full tummy.
- A game of chase the ball may not excite them two days in a row or after a game of tug.
When thinking about motivation, think about sex and pizza.
- There are times you would turn down pizza. Like after you gorged on prime rib, maybe?
- There are times you would turn down sex. Seriously.
The trick to motivating any animal is to find out what they like, and understand how to provide that at the time they genuinely want it.
As an example: your dog loves to walk and pulls on the leash and won't pay attention to you.
If your dog wants badly to go for a walk and walks badly, you can use that as powerful motivation. You can use each step of getting ready and going for a walk as a training opportunity.
At you prepare for a walk, ask for attention before you move on.
Get your dog to look you in the eye and sit still before you put on their leash. Just wait them out. Be patient. Be calm. Hold the leash, ask them to sit, and just wait. It may take a very long time initially, but eventually, your dog will slam their butt to the ground when you get out the leash. The instant they give you attention, say “good dog” and move towards the door.
You can then use the same motivation to get them to pay attention to you and sit calmly at the door before you open it.Just wait them out, the instant they give you attention, say “good dog” and move through the door.
Your dog pulls on a leash? Stop moving in the direction they are dragging toward. Require them to look you in the eye, then only allow them to continue after they stop trying to take your lead from the leash. Wait them out. Very zen. Moving forward is what they want. Sniffing is what they want. They get that when they stop pulling and look at you. The instant they give you attention, say “good dog” and continue on your walk.
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