How Incompatible Behaviors Can Transform Your 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.
They 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 “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.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.