THE THIRD WAY of dog training is very concerned with the dog’s emotional state during learning. Chris Bach, it’s creator says, “If training fails, it is the training process, not the dog. If a relationship has problems, the dog is not to blame. The person’s approach to the relationship is the culprit.”
This reminds me of a song I heard by Don White, a folk comedian / singer. He has a DVD called “Live in Michigan”. One of the songs, “She Sings Me to Sleep with Laughter”, talks about his teenager daughter’s persistent laughing while talking on the phone with her friends while he was trying to catch up on much needed sleep. He thought to himself how best to handle the situation.
He considered his dad personas and Dad #1 came to mind, who would rant and rave at his daughter and order her to hang up the phone. Then Dad #2 came to mind, who would whine and complain to his daughter by reminding her how hard he works to put a roof over her head. Then suddenly, a Dad #3 appeared and told Dads #1 and #2 what they were failing to understand was that the noise wasn’t the problem; it was the way they were choosing to perceive the noise of laughing. Dads #1 and #2 replied, “Oh great, Dad #3 is a philosopher!” LOL
Dad #3 continued on by saying, “Quiet is what results when you are alone in the house and be careful of what you wish for.” Dad #3 then repeated his statement, “the noise is not the problem, it’s the way you choose to perceive the noise.” The dad then was lulled back to sleep by listening to his delightful daughter’s laughter.
Now this isn’t to suggest that we allow our dogs or our children to do whatever they please. However, it is helpful in restructuring our thought patterns so that the dog isn’t blamed for behaviors we find unacceptable. Dogs are perfect at being dogs.
It is our perception of their behavior that often times prevents us from working toward a solution to the “problem behavior.” Instead of blaming the dog, we as our dog’s trainers need to restructure the training program so the dog can be successful in displaying the desired behavior. And, this new perception of our dog can be a life saver for us and our faithful companion.
THE THIRD WAY’s three touchstone questions are crucial in changing a dog’s behavior: 1) What behavior is the dog showing (emotional state)?, 2) How is the environment affective the dog positively and negatively?, and 3) How is the handler affecting the dog positively or negatively?. Being able to answer these three questions, the trainer is able to change a dog’s behavior (without blaming the dog) by using Prevention (not placing your dog in situations he or she is not ready to handle), Management (managing the dog’s environment so he or she can be successful in challenging situations), and Teaching (teaching your dog desired alternative behaviors).