Tonawanda News

Features

March 18, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: It's all a game of trust

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — If your dog runs off at the dog park and you call your dog and your dog comes back, some people will withhold treats. They might say that they don’t want to give the dog a treat because that will teach them to run off again. Consequences of an action only affect the immediate behavior. Withholding those treats is actually teaching the dog that the behavior of coming back is not good. Giving the dog a treat is communicating that coming over will end in something positive, like a food reward.

Another way to withdraw from the trust account is by lying. Let’s say your dog ran off and you call your dog back, by showing them a handful of treats. Your dog comes running back, with their tail wagging, and you give them one treat. The next time you show them a handful of treats, they will not trust you because they previously only received one of the treats. 

When we reward an animal for doing something, we are not really caring about the behavior right then and there. What we are doing is hopefully changing the behavior in the future. The animal does a behavior and you respond. Tomorrow when the animal has a chance to do that behavior again it will react based on how you responded the previous time.

Kenny Coogan has a B.S. in animal behavior. Please email your questions to birdbehaviorconsultant@yahoo.com, or search for "Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan" on Facebook.

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