May 21

Dog Behavior Training-The Environment (Part 2)

General Training and Behavior


Let's Go a Little Deeper….

Why is it so hard to train my dog?

Long and hectic trips back and forth going to a group class or board and training programs are not the most effective way to train your dog or change your dog's behavior.

Families have too many things to do, pulling them in too many directions, and you need a way to fix training and behavior problems quickly…

Not long ago we had a very successful pet services business with premium boarding and training, but we noticed a huge problem with the way the industry (and us) were training  family dogs…the environment.

Today is very different…we have a million things to do and where we train our dogs is just as important as how they are trained.

We live at a time when it’s easier than ever to train a great family dog at home.

It seems so obvious why it wasn’t working before… 

Lewin’s Equation 

Group or in-kennel board and train programs are damaging learning environments for you and your dog.  

It come down to this question:  Do you and your dog feel psychologically and physically comfortable when you are around a bunch of strange people and dogs?

Consider this simple formula:

 ß=ƒ(P,E):  Behavior is a function of personality and environment.  

Think about this for a second…training your dog or changing their behavior has been unnaturally hard because of the environment that you and your dog have been exposed to….not YOU.

Simon Sinek writes about this general concept in his book “Leaders Eat Last.” Using the example of a “snowmobile in the desert” – where people (and dogs) are snowmobiles – he writes that just like snowmobiles…(Video is 11:56 minutes)


“We were designed to operate in very specific conditions. Take that machine designed for one kind of condition – snow – and put it in another condition – the desert, for example – and it won’t operate as well. Sure, the snowmobile will go. It just won’t go as easily or as well as if it were in the right conditions.”

- Simon Sinek -

This is the “old school” way:

Come to a large room with several strangers and their dogs to learn new things.

Try to get your dog to pay attention to you with all the distractions.

You and your dog try to stay calm and focused with several dozen dogs trying to intimidate, determine status and hierarchy, manipulate and position to be on top?  (Sound familiar?)

Why would you put your dog through that if you don’t have to?

Juggling between a leash, the treats, the treat bag, a “clicker,” the dog next to you, the person next to you and paying attention to the instructor while trying to teach “sit” then “down” by bribing your dog with food....and mobile phones ringing and dinging etc. etc. etc.  

Doing all these things at the same time is destroying your dog’s ability to learn...and yours!! 

 This environment forces us, by bad design, to multi-task or context switch over and over again. Performance coach Todd Herman describes the cost of context switching. (9:30)

Is there a better way for our dogs to learn and make it easier on our your family…there is and I’ll tell you about it in just a second. 

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About the author 

Craig Markham MA Family Science

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