Behavior Modification…for Humans

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Today was Casper’s first day in dog behavior class. I would like to say that Casper came home with lots of newly learned behaviors..but I can’t do that. The truth is, Dustin and I came home with more learned behaviors than our furry little guy.We are regular viewers of shows like The Dog Whisperer and It’s Me or the Dog, where trainers are constantly pounding the fact that humans are the ones being trained, so I was prepared to do some modifying of behaviors when I got to class today…I just didn’t realize it was going to be CLASS, for ME.

Let’s provide a brief summary of today’s class: We were given a clicker, and we learned that we click when Casper does a behavior that we WANT to reinforce (I always thought you clicked when they did something bad..so I was off to a bad start already!).

Then we learned that after each click we have to give Casper a treat, even if we clicked wrong. Let me tell you, trying to get the click-and-treat combo down swiftly is hard! Depending on which side you want your dog to walk, you hold the leash clicker in the opposite hand.

We learned about relaxation exercises, leash exercises, response to name exercises–all sorts of stuff. We even learned that we had to have treats that were practically crumb-sized, and they had to be more interesting than his environment….

Honestly, I was a little overwhelmed! Meanwhile, Casper was a little anxious (naturally–it’s what we are trying to work on!) so the trainers brought over a blocker so that he wouldn’t be able to see his classmates as easily and get distracted.

Otherwise, our little guy did well in his first class — better than his parents, I think!

Our next class isn’t for another two weeks, unfortunately, but this means that we will have two weeks to practice and exercise with Casper. This also means that Dustin and I will have homework. Patience is definitely not my virtue, so this is going to be interesting…and I thought I was on summer vacation!

I’m just glad Cesar Milan isn’t our trainer, he would probably yell at me throughout the whole session….

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