We are all familiar with the idea of making deposits into a bank account. The idea is to accumulate money & watch it grow. For some, these initial deposits begin with a small amount of investment but over time they grow into larger & larger amounts & the added interest rates help the initial sum grow even larger without having to make any effort in additional deposits. It is our responsibility to continue to make these deposits in order for our investment to grow. If we choose to neglect making regular deposits, we can’t blame anyone else for the stagnation in our bank account. We can’t expect or rely on others to make the deposits for us. We can only look to ourselves if we choose to continuously withdraw more than we’re depositing, for the lack of growth of that account.
The same holds true for the behaviour of our pets. If we can use the same concept, in regard to unwanted behaviour, we can begin to understand that we are the single source of responsibility for that behaviour. Every time our pet elicits a behaviour we don’t want, if we choose to not redirect that spark of a thought immediately, then our pet has just made a direct deposit into their own account of unwanted behaviour. Every time we choose to allow that behaviour to be expressed without immediate redirection, our pet’s bank account has just grown a little larger. The more we choose to allow this account to accumulate growth, the more difficult it is for ourselves or someone else to begin to withdraw from that bank account. And just like a bank account, the more the initial investment grows, the more the compounded interest is added, with no effort on our part.
To illustrate this concept, I will use a recent conversation. The complaints began as follows; This person regularly uses a quad to drive around their property & the dog has always run alongside the quad. At some point, this person heard another quad trespassing on their property, out of sight. The dog, ignoring the recall command, ran to where this other vehicle was & the owner heard a yelp. The dog returned shortly afterward later & seemed fine, so the owner chose to let the incident go & forget about it as they moved on with their normal life.
At some point later, the dog began running around the quad barking, which the dog hadn’t done previously. Over time this escalated into more & more unwanted behaviour & eventually reached a point where the dog wouldn’t stop biting the tires of the quad. Other behaviours began to surface that they had never seen before, like barking & biting at the riding lawnmower & the weed trimmer. The owner was convinced that these escalating behaviours were result of the initial incident with the trespassing quad. They thought these new behaviours were due to the sound of the machinery, however the dog wasn’t triggered by the running of the vacuum in the house or other noisy machinery often used. The owner further stated that they had concluded that the dog’s behaviour was triggered only by noisy machinery that people rode on & asked how to solve these multiple problems.
The first thing pointed out was that we don’t drive weed eaters, so their conclusion cannot be correct. Then we proceeded to discuss the natural tendencies for humans to always look to eternal stimuli for sources of cause, effect & blame. We discussed how this person had absolutely no way of knowing what happened with the other quad because they did not witness the events, so what is the point of dwelling on it & using it as a source of blame? They stated the dog was perfectly fine when it returned, so they needed to stop looking externally for sources of blame & begin to look much closer to home instead. Even if something did happen during that encounter, it doesn’t serve to continue to feed the story.
First, we must be willing to let these external sources of blame go & look at this person’s choices during the onset & escalation of the behaviours. We have already established that the owner did not have a reliable recall with the dog, so therefore, they were already in a position to allow unwanted behaviour to establish & escalate without redirection. The first spark of unwanted behaviour for this herding bred dog was to lose self-control with the stimulation of movement.
As a side note, we then discussed how the mind is brought into neutral during Parameters & is essentially erased, to allow for reprogramming & starting over. We discussed how bringing the mind ( & emotions) into neutral is the easiest & fastest way to solve multiple problems at once. But like most, this person didn’t want to hear about doing anything other than what they had decided was most important in that moment. They were solely focused, with a one-track mind on the one problem they decided was a priority & needed a quick fix to solve immediately. Like most, they are invested in the belief that each behaviour must be addressed directly & individually. The thing they weren’t willing to listen to is that if there is A problem, it will always escalate into compound problems & Parameters could have solved multiple problems all at once, but that was not what they wanted to hear in that moment.
Accommodating their choice, we moved into discussing this person’s role in the establishment & escalation of the behaviours, which was a completely foreign concept. They preferred to blame everything else around them as a the cause of the problem. The owner “decided” that another human had hurt the dog, which. Led to the formation of the new & escalating behaviour.
I mentioned that “the dog we have on a leash, is the same dog have off leash. If there isn’t a reliable recall on leash, we certainly can’t expect a reliable recall off leash. This was the first place the spark of this behaviour should have been extinguished & then the escalation wouldn’t have continued. If our commands are not being followed immediately while off leash, then the dog must be placed back on a training leash until they are responding 100% of the time. When we allow them to ignore even the simplest commands, we are creating the perfect environment for these sparks of unwanted behaviour to begin to multiply, which will inevitably lead to an inferno such as this. This is the equivalent of the compounded interest on our initial investment, or in this case, lack of investment. We don’t understand how behaviour escalates in predictable patterns & rates, but once we can stop looking to external stimuli for cause & blame, only then can we begin to understand these perfectly predictable patterns & extinguish them as a spark. Just like we can predict how much interest will be accrued in our account at the end of every month, the patterns of behaviour extensions can be calculated & expected in the same way.
When questioned about what steps were taken to redirect any of the behaviours, the response was a common one. They didn’t know what to do, so they allowed the behaviours to compound multiple times daily. This circles back to the article on building a template of behaviour & humans knowing what they don’t want, but not really knowing what they do want. The person tried yelling & screaming at the dog, who was already not responding & then quit trying, leading back to the article about how quickly & easily we give up instead of following through & finishing this moment. The decision made in the end was to stop allowing the dog to accompany them. This also leads back to other articles about not giving the animal an opportunity to learn the difference between wanted & unwanted behaviour.
The point here is that the behaviour wasn’t addressed in its infancy as a spark, which would have eliminated all of the behaviour extensions. Screaming & yelling at a pet that is already not listening & in an escalated state of emotion is adding fuel to a raging fire. As stated multiple times previously, “Our choices are governed by our emotions to a larger degree than we realize. Emotions strongly effect learning, they are intertwined with perception & attention & they interact with learning & memory. Emotional stimulation has a great bearing on the association & retention of memories. Emotional elevation over-rides our ability to think, be observant & rational”. Any human or animal in an elevated mental & emotional state cannot learn or retain. We, as the one who is setting the example of how to behave & retain self-control, must be the first to remain in a balanced mental & emotional state. Only then can we think rationally & cognize the necessary steps to extinguish this spark in a way that makes sense & helps our pet calm down & relax, so that they can become involved in the learning curve & retain what they’re learning.
If our pet is out of control off leash or lead, then we must place them back on the lead in order to help them understand. If the pet is out of control on lead, then we must take the time to show them what to do, not panic ourselves & quit. We must be willing to stop whatever it was we were about to do & invest the time in this moment, when it’s needed to redirect until our pet understands, otherwise we are building a future inferno of our own design. Every single time we allow our pet to do something we don’t want, we are choosing to allow them to make a deposit into the bank account of unwanted behaviour. Every deposit they’re allowed to make solidifies the unwanted behaviour that much deeper & compounds the amount of time & repetition that will be needed to change the behaviour later. Most are looking for quick fixes, which are available at the onset of the behaviours, but we alone choose to wait until the behaviours are so deeply rooted that a quick fix by conventional methods is impossible. This is where we will make decisions to send our pets to other people who will use painful gadgets & practices to essentially beat the behaviours we’ve taught out of our pets or discard them for new pets.