Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The price is right!

A dog will not change its behavior unless the alternative is more rewarding!  Think about that statement for a moment.  Now act of it and pay much better than the self-reward they are already receiving.

Hoot is an excellent example of this.  She is now 5.5 months old, very biddable, but also very independent.  There are certain things in life that she can give up very easily for a piece of kibble and there are things in life that are so self-rewarding that the pay check has to be huge.  Once I have the appropriate pay, she will do anything for me.

What is wrong with paying a high price to get the behavior you want?  You get what you want and they get what they want.  Every time you pay you transfer the value from that high priced reward to the task that you would like them to do.  The reward can be less over time because that activity now has value to them.

I once had a student who wanted the dog to work for them just for the love of working for them.  Interesting thought and in the end you can probably have that sometimes, but is it fair and equitable?  Probably not. 

Would you work as a store greeter for free just because you love hanging at that store.  I wouldn't.  If that store let me pick one item worth $300 for everyday I worked for them, I might.  If my manager came by and said she loved the way I interacted with the customers that would make me feel good.  So, after a year, if my manager said she needed me to work one day for free would I?  Probably because I liked that store, I know they pay well, I liked the experiences, and I liked my manager.  That goodwill did not come for free, it was earned. 

So, does it cost you anything to pay with a high value reward for what you want?  I don't think so.  I think it costs more in the end if you don't pay well.  You spend a lot of  training time establishing that your pay scale is crappy, and only getting mediocre behaviors back. 

I want every training moment I have to count toward getting the most awesome behavior I can!  I pay well above union wages.

P.S. Think outside the box to design your high paying rewards.  Spraying a hose, chasing you, chasing a ball, running out a door, helping vacuum, jumping into a pool.  What does your dog love more than life itself?  Use that as rewards!