Quick Fixes

By Abby Huxtable

Today’s society is one of instant gratification. We Google a question we don’t know the answer to, we have next day delivery, we stream TV shows so we can watch as many episodes as we like. We have forgotten how to wait for things!

However, when learning a new skill, such as a language, taking up a new hobby, or playing a musical instrument, we remember that these take time, practice and effort to learn.

So why do we want instant results from our dogs, instead of taking the time to teach them the new skill?

Marketing agents (and many TV dog trainers) are very good at tapping into that desire for instant results. You see many tools on the market: anti-pull harnesses, anti-bark collars, slip collars and slip leads, corrector sprays, and many more.

The trouble with all of these tools and methods, is that they rely on punishing the behaviour. They do something unpleasant or aversive to the dog, to stop them repeating the behaviour. Do you really want to punish your dog for doing something his instincts tell him to do? Is that not verging on animal cruelty?

When you could just spend the time with your dog, teach them the skill you want them to learn and practice together, enjoy learning together, until they achieve that new skill. This includes things such as loose lead/leash walking, checking in with you when they hear or see a trigger, teaching them what you would like them to chew, teaching them to ignore food, or other dogs, plus many more.

We control all of our dogs’ lives. We choose them from the breeder or rescue, we decide when they get fed, where and when they get exercise, what activities they do, when and where they sleep, when they get interactions with us, so we need to take responsibility to also teach them what we would like them to know.

This means taking that time to teach them that new skill, and practice it, and build upon it, and develop it, just like we would if we were learning that new skill.

We shouldn’t rely on a potentially damaging, painful or unpleasant quick fix to do it for us.

Trigger stacking | Meadow Family Rescue