Incompatible Behavior…What?


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What is an Incompatible Behavior?

The simple answer is a behavior that is taught, so the learner cannot do a less desired behavior. Let’s think of a few examples of when this might be true. This works in every day life just like it works in dog training, so we will use both dog and human examples for this thought experiment.

**Plays Jeopardy music while you think of examples **

  • A dog jumping up. What can we teach the dog instead? We can teach the dog to sit. However, if we tell the dog to “sit”, will the dog sit on cue? Chances are the answer is no. So, for this example, we also want to use “implied impulse control” and maybe read my other blog on Wildly Friendly Dog to help us out.
  • Many adults want to stop smoking. Smoking has two components to it. There is a drug addiction, but there is also an oral fixation. My friend figured out his smoking addiction was more about the oral fixation, so he would use Dum-Dum Lollipops instead. Every time he wanted a cigarette or had a smoke break he would use his Dum-Dum Lollipop instead. Eventually he had fewer and fewer smoke breaks, nor did he care that much about his lollipops and quit altogether.
  • For some children who find impulse control difficult, if they could sit in their chair or on their “cloud” without disrupting other classmates they could then pet Armada (their therapy dog). They demonstrated an incompatible behavior (sitting quietly in their chair) and were then greatly rewarding (petting the dog).

What other examples can you think of?

Implied Impulse Control vs. Cued Impulse Control

Most of the impulse control that I use with my dogs in implied. What does that mean? It means, unless I tell my dogs they are allowed to have something, they cannot have it. Several years ago, one of my dogs decided to help himself to a Bloomin’ Onion and gave himself onion toxicity. Nobody was around when he helped himself to the onion. Implied Impulse Control means that for the most part my dogs will not “get something” on their own. I don’t have to be present to tell them not to get something.

Cued Impulse Control means that I have to say something like “Leave it” or “No” or “Not Yours” or something to like that for my dog to not go after it. Most people think that is impulse control. In this scenario a person has to be present to keep a dog from going after something. Are you always around? Is someone always going to be there to tell your dog NOT to do something?

To me it is up to the dog owner on what they feel is most appropriate for their dog and their training goals. I see a need to train both, so I do train both. I generally train an Implied Impulse Control first and then Cued Impulse Control needs almost no training. When I said “Leave it” to Kiely (my youngest dog) then first time she looked at me like I had three heads, but my criteria was for her to “leave it” and she did, so she got rewarded!

With all of this Incompatible Behavior talk and Implied vs Cued Impulse Control leads us to our next topic, which is the ultimate Incompatible Behavior for most people…

Counter Surfing…Make it STOP!

Over the years you have heard ALL of the tricks of the trade for making Counter Surfing stop! I’m sure you have heard things such as using double sided sticky tape on the edges of the counter, shaking can full of coins or pebbles when the dog puts his feet on the counter, placing pans on the edge of the counter that your dog will knock over and will make a loud noise and scare the dog, using a squirt bottle, etc. There are many things you can do, but ask yourself…have they worked?

The goal of Positive PUNISHMENT (adding a stimulus, to decrease behavior) in its actual definition is the punishment should be harsh enough for single event learning to occur. If it is not then it is abuse. That means if you have to do something unpleasant to the learner more than once, you are being abusive. Of course, I am being very nit-picky here. For the most part, I do not believe people are purposely being abusive to their pets. I believe they have been given poor advice and are desperate for anything to help because they want their dog to stop stealing objects (usually food) from the counter or table.

Now, ask yourself why does your dog steal from the counter or table?

  • Do your give your dog attention?
    • Get back here Fido!!!!
    • Stop getting up there!
    • Get off that!!!
    • No, drop that!!!!
    • *Plays chase, trying to get what Fido has*
  • Does your dog get food when he jumps on the counter/table?
  • Does the kid think its cute to give Fido food?

If you answered “yes”, to any of those questions then your dog is being rewarded for getting on the counter/table. Any type of reward is better than the inconsistent “punishment” Fido is getting, so Fido will continue is wayward ways. Anytime a dog gets “rewarded” (in his mind) for a behavior he will continue to do it. This is how I decided to use Incompatible Behaviors to teach my dogs how to have appropriate kitchen/table manners.

For the most part, I find it better to teach my dogs what I want them to do, rather than “punish” them for what I don’t want them to do. My thought process behind developing “Fabulous Sous Chefs – Preventing Counter Surfing, Food Stealing, and Teaching Proper Kitchen Manners” was if my dog is laying down “over there” on an area rug, then my dog cannot steal food off my plate, or get hurt from the hot stove or oven. I can cook without having to step over dogs and I can get things out of the oven without having to worry about burning a dog. My husband and I can also eat dinner without a bunch of velociraptors surrounding us, which is nice. Another thing I enjoy is not having to push food back on the counter or table and worry if it is still going to be there when I get back. I have recently gotten the benefit of not having to worry if I drop a pill when I’m filling my pill container or if I drop a non-dog safe food item.

The Fabulous Sous Chefs class is all online, can be trained in your own house, at your own pace, and your always have access to it. I encourage your to upload videos and ask questions in the comments to ensure that you are doing things correctly. With the holidays and people coming over this is a great class to be taking to help you and your dog out!

Photo by Daniel Brunsteiner on Unsplash

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