In this chapter you will come to understand some of the reasons your puppy behaves as he does. An understanding of behavior will make you more able to train him, and better qualified to pinpoint the sources of some common problems. We will explore patterns of behavior and their consequences. Unfortunately, in many cases, an owner who has no understanding of behavior will reinforce inappropriate behaviors through poor discipline techniques. Invariably they compound the problem and created confusion in the dog’s mind.
Before we discuss the key aspects of pet psychology, there are two phrases that you should keep in mind: Violence (otherwise known as hard discipline) is never an option. Although it may overcome the immediate frustration of the owner, it never does anything to solve the dog’s problem. The only certainly of inconsistent discipline is negative side effects. If you are not consistent in training, your dog will be inconsistent in his behavior.
The first eye aspect o f pet psychology is reinforcement. Reinforces are any stimuli serving to enforce a given b behavior. A primary reinforce is a stimuli, such as punishment, or petting, applied at the time of a behavior. A discriminatory reinforce is a stimuli that replaces a primary enforcer, but has the implication of the primary. “No” and “Good Boy” are the examples most commonly used, however, here the words are only part of the stimuli the tone of voice, together with facial and body expressions, are equally as important. Your size, coupled with the tone of y our voice and facial expression, leave the youngster in no doubts about your meaning.
“Gaining an understanding of why your puppy behaves the way he does will make it easier to train him and pinpoint the sources of any difficulties”
Generalization may itself apply both positively and negatively. For example, your puppy goes to the vet and is subject to a painful treatment, the vet wears a white coat. Some days later you visit a friend who is veering a white coat, and the puppy shows instant fear. The original source of the fear, the pain resulting form the treatment, at the vet’s office, has been transferred in the pups mind to color of the clothing. You might unwittingly chastise the pup for his fear of your friend. In so doing, you reinforce that fear.
Generalization is one of the singular most difficult behaviors to overcome because; anything in the environment may become a potential source of negative generalization. The best way to minimize the risk of negative generalizations is to try and ensure that the puppy is never placed in a situation that you know may result in fear. For example, do not wait until the puppy has a problem before visiting the vet. Take him in for a check-up, that way he’ll become accustomed to the environment under generally non-stressful conditions. Therefore, when presented with a difficult situation the puppy will experience less anxiety and will not associate the veterinarian’s office with pain and fear. Likewise, never take a puppy that is unfamiliar with the hustle and bustle of a busy town center into one without first getting him familiar with people and traffic under less busy conditions. Everything is new to a puppy; by taking things slowly you are ensuring all the generalization’s he makes will be of a positive nature.
“Generalization is one of the most difficult behaviors for a puppy to overcome because anything in the environment may become the source of a negative generalization. A watchful eye should prevent your puppy from encountering any situations in which this would be possible.”