How Incompatible Behaviors Can Transform Your Dog’s Behavior

dog training, incompatible behaviors transform dog's behavior

We use the term "incompatible behaviors" A LOT in dog training.

However, the more often I use the term, the more I begin to believe that people don’t truly understand the concept when it relates to their dogs.

And, if they did, they would see their dog's behaviors miraculously transform.

I’m serious! It is like a miracle when you know how to use it!

A story from my childhood

My mom was the “Queen” of incompatible behaviors!

I come from a very, very strict and religious background.  Did I mention VERY STRICT?

Never once, in my teenage career did I EVER go to a party with alcohol.

I'm serious, I never once did!

I mean, my best friend and I talked about it.

We even made arrangements to go out on the same nights as “epic” parties. But we always found ourselves driving around the neighborhood of the party and discussing what our parents would do to us if they had to bail us out of jail.

Something along the lines of beating me with a belt until I was welted and bruised and then chaining me to my bed, came to mind.

So it is safe to say that my parents believed in punishment too.

I have definitely had my fair share of beatings in my life.

But the reason that “punishment”, something negative that happens AFTER the behavior (being grounded or beaten or both after the raging party), works on humans, is because we have the power of intellectually evaluating what punishment is likely to happen.

Even as a teenager, my intellectual powers were stronger than that of a dog.

Dogs just don’t have the power of reasoning.

dog training, incompatible behaviors transform dog's behaviorThey often just choose what feels good.

A dog would have gone to that larger-than-life party, busted through the door, made friends with everyone, drank like a fish and passed out somewhere in the yard… never thinking about what might happen after!

Dogs and punishment is usually futile!

Incompatible Behaviors

Incompatible behaviors “KEEP” a behavior from happening, or continuing.

During the summer, my sister and I weren’t allowed to watch TV during the day.

In those days, there were only about 4 local channels and there are only so many times you can watch “The Andy Griffith Show” or “Leave it to Beaver” but we still wanted to watch TV.

If left to our own devices and, on a few occasions when our days were not filled with jobs, we would watch TV during the day then quickly turn it off when we heard her car race down the driveway.

My mother, who worked, would leave us with an arm’s length list of things to clean and things to do.

She figured, and rightly so, if we were moving the refrigerator and cleaning behind it, or scrubbing walls, we didn’t have time to watch TV, or go anywhere, or have anyone over.

We just weren't capable of doing both things.

And, don’t think that we could just do a shoddy job and get away with it!

My mom would actually place pieces or fuzz, or lint, in certain places, or dirt on the wall or bathroom to ensure that we were getting everything done in an efficient manner.

It was true!

We couldn’t clean the house while we watched TV (this was before families had more than one TV and TV’s weighed more than an adult human).

Many parents use team sports as incompatible behaviors.

If your son is at football practice 4 nights a week and one or two games per weekend for many hours at a time, the odds of him getting in trouble are significantly decreased!

In Dog Terms

This unique little approach can also be used with your furry friend!

If you don't like a specific behavior, train your puppy to do something that he cannot do while he is doing the bad behavior!

If your dog is on his bed in a down stay chewing a bone, when the mail comes, he can’t chase the mailman or bark threateningly out the window!

If he is sitting and giving you attention, he can’t be lunging and threatening the neighbor dog!

Dogs are horrible multi-taskers so just by giving him something else to occupy his time, you are likely to cut down his negative behavior to nearly none!

And, the nice thing?

You can REWARD incompatible behaviors so that they become "happy" behaviors and something that they can enjoy choosing over the bad behavior.


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  1. Jana says:

    I have a 9 mo Great Dane ‘puppy’ who is about 100 lbs so I use the term puppy only in mental age terms. Every time anyone walks into the room, Louie has to ‘check in’ with us by a quick sniff. It could be in our stomach, pant leg, shirt or to my husband’s demise, the forbidden crotchal area. We understand that dogs do everything with their noses first but Louie’s issue is that he deposits lots of slobber on our clothes and those of our guests. It’s annoying but I am not sure what the best alternate incompatible behavior would be best. Any suggestions?


  2. Vicki says:

    You. Must have had horrible parents that would be child abuse to beat your children they couldn’t have had a dog and get away with that wicked!


  3. EVA Lacks says:

    My dog has to chase all guests wanted or unwanted to
    the door barking til they leave. What can I do to stop this behaviour?


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