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SG Susan Garrett
SG Every once in a while, we're going to come upon a time when our dog does the complete opposite of
what we expect. Then you're trying to behave all positive and everything but holy crap all you want is
for your dog to stop. What can you do? That's the question that's coming today. I've got 10 different
examples of things that your dogs are doing that you would like to know what to do when you're trying
to behave in a way that's becoming of somebody who's trying to be a reinforcement-based dog trainer.
Hi, I'm Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. Now, if you've been following our program, you
know that there's three things that we can do in response to what our dogs are doing. Number one, we
can ignore the behavior - like tolerate it hope it's going to get better. That's rarely, rarely a good plan.
You know in some incidences possibly but not very often.
The other thing we can do is manage. That is, we could put the garbage up on the counter, so our dog
doesn't get into the garbage when we go out for the night. That's managing. Or yay, we can dog train it.
That involves having a plan and executing that plan.
Where does the plan come from? Well, ideally it comes from a dog training expert like myself. A mentor
that you look up to that you go, “Holy crap! Her dogs are really well behaved.” And in addition to that,
“Holy crap. Look at all of her students’ dogs, they're really well behave too.” That's what I want. That's
where you get your plan.
Okay. So, there's three things you can do. You can ignore it, manage it, train it. Now in order to train it,
you're going to have to manage the situation. And that's what this is - a lot of times it's about, it's about
mismanagement or just ignoring it and hoping it's going to get better. But let's dig a little deeper
because there's some layers to this.
First of all, I'm going to ask the question - whatever's going on with your dog - is it obviously stress-related? Because if it is, you can't do anything because the dog is not thinking. They are reacting and
all you can do is create an environment that looks safe for the dog. Open a car door, you know, open a
crate door, throw down— they're not going to eat cookies, but create an environment that looks like you
are a safe haven. Run away from the dog so that you can create something that they may want to run
Think of a dog who's terrified of thunder and they're out in the middle of a field. They're just going to
panic and run in any direction and they're not even thinking. Okay. So, if it's obviously stress-related
none of what I'm going to say to you is going to be relevant.
All that's relevant is trying to create safety for that dog at that moment. Okay. So, what we've got is
what appears to be dogs behaving badly, but let's think of this in terms of like kids, adolescents
growing up, they want two things.
They want belonging and community and they want reinforcement. And they can get that into general
directions. Maybe by hanging out in gangs and getting into trouble or by being guided in a constructive
belonging and seeking reinforcement by maybe joining some community teams. Joining a basketball
team, a baseball team, getting reinforcement and acknowledgement and belonging that way.
All right. So, what our dogs are doing, they're sometimes just looking for reinforcement, occasionally
belonging, and we've got to provide that in an obvious, constructive way for them. So, you got your
behavior and maybe you've got a few in your brain. Now, “what do I do when my dog does this
Susan?” So, think of the one or two or three behaviors that your dog's got going on.
Now, if it happens once a year, let me just tell you that frequency is normal. If it's happening once a
month, let me suggest you need to seek out a good mentor to help you with that problem. If it's
happening once a week, then you've either got to examine your execution of your mentor's plan, or you
got to get a different mentor.
Right. So, examine how often it's happening and then decide to take action. So, I'm going to ask you a
few questions. Number one, ‘can you stop or redirect the reinforcement that the dog is getting right now
for the behavior that they're doing?’ For example, question number seven on my list. “What do I do
when my dog digs up the water bowl?”
Okay, so you can, you have the ability to stop and redirect that reinforcement right now. All they have
to do is pick up the water bowl, right? It stops the behavior. It doesn't change the dog's desire to dig in
the water bowl. You've got to then ask yourself the next question, ‘where's the value for the dog?’
Well, it must be fun splashing water all over the place. And so, what you're going to have to do is teach
the dog an incompatible behavior when there's water down or when they're at this stage of their life,
just pick up the water and manage it. Put it down several times a day for the dog to have a drink and
then pick it up.
This is something they may outgrow, but they will not outgrow it if they continuously have access to that
water bowl. So that's an easy one. Can you stop redirect the behavior and where's the value, and the
next question is ‘what's your plan?’ What's your plan, sit down and think about what's your plan. Do you
want to write out a plan, how to teach your dog to ignore water bowls? Or do you just want to manage
that until that dog grows up a little bit? And guess what, 99% of the time they just stop wanting to dig in
water bowls. Okay. So that is the first question. Can you stop interrupt or redirect the behavior?
If the answer is yes, then do it and then come up with a plan. If the answer is no, then I would like you
to think of three categories that I've created to put behaviors into. The first one is just in the flow of dog
training, in the flow of everyday life. So, a question like number nine here might be in the flow of dog
training or everyday life. “What do I do when everyone who knows my dog's name says it over and
over and I want to use it for a recall?” Okay. This probably could be category number one.
Right. You could stop or redirect the reinforcement. In this case it's not the dog’s, it's the people that
you can stop or redirect. Can you control everybody? No, but what you can do is come up with a
nickname for your dog, something only you know, and you won't tell those other people. You build
value for that - boom shakalaka boom - your dog just listens to you and ignores the rest of them.
Okay. So those are easy ones. So, behaviors that are in the flow of training or everyday life, the
subsection of this, is it the dog on leash or are they off leash? If they’re on leash it's easy that you can
just turn towards a dog, get them out of the environment, or you can go back and start your behavior
That is like question number four. “What do I do when my dog breaks position for a stay in obedience?”
You're going to stop, ask yourself that number one question where's the value. Where's the value for
the dog? Clearly it isn't in holding position. So, dogs are always doing the best they can with the
education you’ve given them in the environment that we’re asking them to perform.
If they aren't holding that stay either the education is incomplete, even though you may think it is, the
dog's the one who's in charge of the learning, right? They're the one who's telling you what their
responses. That education is incomplete or it's just incomplete in the environment that you've put them
So, all that I do when my dog breaks this day is a just walk back, I might turn them in a circle, put them
back in the position and I'll go back and make that test again. Was it the duration? Was it the distance?
Was it the distraction that I gave them? I'll give them the same test if they fail again, they're giving me a
very clear signal. “You better go back and make a better plan for my education because it's a little
incomplete right now.”
All right. So, if they're on leash, it's easy. If they're off leash, then there's a list, a checklist that I might
go down. If it's in the flow of training or everyday life and they're off leash, chances are it's not a what I
call a code red.
So, the first one is family life, code red is this is danger. We need something done immediately. It might
not be like immediately life or death, but it could be like danger this is about to embarrass me in front of
my entire in-laws or my sister's wedding is going to get ruined because the dog just ran off and was
running towards the chocolate cake.
Save the chocolate cake. Okay. So, code red is ‘I need this stopped immediately’. In the flow of training
is this something that you want to take note of. And the other is that third category I call it ‘that's a little
bit of fun for the dog’. And you know what, it's not obvious which category any behavior belongs in.
Some of these are obvious. Some of them not so obvious, but then you go through the checklist of
what your options are. So, your options I said you can, you know, can you redirect the behavior?
Maybe, maybe not. Next is, can you engage the dog? So, for example, what do I do when my dog gets
the zoomies in class? Can you redirect the dog?
“Lie down. Come here. Sit.” Can you redirect the dog? Now, remember if this is happening once a year,
no big deal. It's normal. Something went on. If it's happening once a month, you need some help. If it's
happening once a week, you need some different help. Okay. So can you redirect. This is the checklist
you're going through.
Can you redirect? No. Can you engage the dog by asking them— engagement might be asking them
to do a behavior, engagement might be like in episode number 22, where my husband used the
invisible bubble of pressure and made a shrill noise and ran the opposite way when our puppy got
loose, when we were on vacation, and she just turned and chased him. That was him engaging her.
So, can you engage your dog to get them to come back to you in a fun way? Sometimes like lying on
this, like collapsing on the floor, laughing or rolling around, or just being something that the dogs going
“I was running off here, but like, what are you doing? Okay. You're embarrassing me in front of my
friends. Can you get off the floor now?”
So, engagement might be just you acting goofy or doing something like when I go to workout in the
mornings and I start rolling, everybody wants to jump on my head. I don't know. It's crazy. Like, you
know, it's something about that is really engaging to dogs. So, can you engage them?
Number two, can you bride them? “Hey mama got a cookie.” Susan Garrett saying bride them. Oh,
heck yes. But that's reinforcing the dog for what they're doing. Oh, heck yes. We're trying to stop
something and then we're going to come up with a plan, so it never happens again, right? So, bribing
them this one time. Remember it's only gonna happen once a year. Bribing them this one time, I'm
okay with that because we need to stop the behavior.
So, can you engage them? Can you bribe them? And it might be like throwing cookies on the floor. It
might be squeaking a squeaky. It might be slamming a toy that they like, you know, bribery takes
different forms. Now the next one is, can you ignore them? Now you're not going to do this if the
behavior the dog is doing is dangerous or it's getting reinforcement for it.
For example, if your dog— you're in the backyard and you say, “come on, it's time to go in” and your
dog just starts like play bowing and running circles and going, “no, I'm not going in.” You could just sit
down in the chair and open your book again. I'm ignoring you. Like I don't really have to go in, but I'm
not going to say anything to you to reinforce this behavior. I'm reading a book or pretending to read a
book, but what I'm really doing is I'm planning to listen to a few more episodes of Shaped by Dog and
figure out what my next move is here. That's what I'm doing.
All right. I've got to come up with a better plan because anytime your dog does something you don't
like, you've got to say, where's the value and what did I learn from this? What's my next plan? All right.
So, ignoring the behavior only if it's not being reinforced by doing it. For example, I was in a class one
time, and it was an obedience class.
And think about this. Typically, obedience classes happen after supper. So, this woman rushes home
from work, grab something, wolf's down dinner, runs out to class and she's waiting to go into the next
class. Meanwhile, there's another class and they're doing retreats and her dog is barking outside the
ring, “ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff” at the dogs as they're running back and forth retrieving, and she's turning
And I said, “What are you doing?” She said, “Oh I'm ignoring the behavior.” I said, “It's a border Collie.”
Their reinforcement is I get to bark and lunge at dogs as they're retrieving. It's getting reinforcement. It
doesn't have— because reinforcement can come from the environment, it's just as good reinforcement,
right? Doesn’t always have to come from you. Sometimes the better reinforcement comes from the
And when I say the environment, it could be family members. It could be a squirrel that's running. It
could be shredding the couch, the couch could give reinforcement. It could be knocking over the
garbage. The garbage gives reinforcement. Anything that doesn't come from you I'm calling it the
All right. So, ignoring the behavior might be an option. So, we've got, can you stop or redirect? Can you
engage? Can you bribe? And can you ignore? Now we're getting into the serious stuff. Can you
surprise the dog? So surprising the dog might be making a goofy noise. It might be this, I've done this
one time. I took a troll comforter off of my couch. And as my puppy ran by, I just threw it on the puppy
because the puppy was running around with something that she could damage. I honestly don't
remember what it was. Piece of jewelry or something. Yeah, my bad.
And so, I just threw that, and it surprised her, and she stopped running. “Well, yeah. I just got tangled
up in my throw blanket.” All right. So, can you surprise them? That's one thing. Another way to surprise
is like clapping your hands or making a loud noise. Surprising like startling them saying like, “Hey!”
something that is out of the norm for the dog, right?
Whistling. My whistle startles a lot of dogs. I'm not, I'm going to save your ears. I am not going to
whistle into this microphone but think of like a packed hundred-thousand-person stadium and a college
football game is going on, you will hear my whistle above everybody else’s. It's that good. So, I can
startle, right, to stop the behavior. I'm going to do all those other things first.
Generally, one of those will happen and I’ll dealt through all those other ones in a matter of a minute or
so. Now, if it's a code red, I'm not going through any, it's unlikely I'm going to any of the others. If the
dog is heading towards danger, I may try the engagement of shrill noise, run the opposite direction, but
then I'll go into surprise startle scare.
Scare would be like, you know, screaming. I, as a last resort, because sometimes screaming will cause
the dog to go in the opposite direction. Right. But we are code red. We have a dog who is in danger,
and we need to help them. Right. But you've got to ask yourself, how did you get in that situation to
You put too much faith in what you thought was your dog's natural affinity to do what you want. And,
you know, dogs are going to drift towards what's reinforcing. It's up to us as their protector and owner
and you know leader to set up the reinforcement for them. So, they will look towards you for everything
My puppy will be a year old in two days, and I would be willing to bet a good sum of money there is
nothing I couldn’t call her away from - that she would come to me and more often than not, she would
come to me just with one call and it doesn't matter how far away she is. I wouldn't really have to raise
my voice very much to get her to come to me.
So, a normal “This!”, she's going to come running. All right. So why do I have that? Because it was
important to me. All right. So, knowing we've got our code red, our bit of fun, in the flow of training and
family, those are our three categories of behaviors other than stress. So, you could categorize what
you've got, look at is it on leash or off, and then go through here's what you're going to do to stop them.
So, if you have chasing wildlife, well to me that's a code red. You shouldn't be scaring wildlife. Now, if
the wildlife has got a good head start and it's a safe environment, I might ignore the dog and go back
into the house. I've done that with Tater Salad. And then while I'm in the house, I'm planning how for
this to never happen again. And I would say it's probably been, Tater has been with us for about two
and a half years. It's been close to a year since he's ever left me on a walk to go and chase wildlife.
All right. So, it can be reversed. Absolutely it can be reversed. So, I want my dog to come in from the
backyard because I have to go to work. Well, your bad. Right. So, number one thought is where's the
value? Well, if they're running around the backyard, there's really not much you can do.
Go through my list. Can you engage them? Can you bride them? Can you, you can't ignore them
because they might be having fun in the backyard plus you've got to get to work. Can you surprise
them or startle them like— And then you've got to have a plan for this never to happen again. You've
got to have a way, like I said, I live here on 28 acres and my puppy can be the furthest corner of our
property and I call her, and she will come flying on one call.
Right. So, you've got to have a plan to get that kind of reliability, or you should be managing behavior,
not trusting that your dog naturally will want to remember. Just like teenagers, they're naturally going to
gravitate to reinforcement, whether it be gang related or structured really constructive reinforcement
like playing basketball. So, our dogs will do the same thing. They’re just going to gravitate towards
reinforcement, to us reinforcing it. It’s up to us to make sure we funnel it in a direction we want.
Okay. So, my dog has the kids' toys and they're playing keep away, that’s family manners, bit of fun.
And I would just scroll through those lists as I said, what do I do when my dog won't get into the car
when I want to go to the park, I would say that would be the flow of training. It could be either. If it's in a
dangerous environment, it really could be code red, but I would say your dog's telling you where the
And so, you need to make a routine habit, a building value for getting into car. You get to the park, you
release them, you call them back, you put them back in the car, you give them a high value reward, you
let them out again. Maybe two or three times before you really want to go home, you put them back in
the car, give them high value rewards, say, “Hey, go play some more.” Don't always make getting in
the car being the end of all that is fun.
Right. Keep them guessing, right? Just like your love life. Okay. “My dog goes crazy when I'm working
my older dog.” So go to episode number 88, barrier frustration. And when I'm raising a puppy, my
number one focus, well obviously it is recall, but my really big focus is I want my dogs to be comfortable
and quiet when I'm training other dogs. So, I put a lot of work into that. It requires a lot of patience, or
you manage it.
I don't like a young dog barking when I'm training another dog, so I don't allow them to rehearse that.
And why they're doing it is probably barrier frustration. And number 10, “I've got a nine-month-old
Husky, one trainer— who bites, who still puppy bites. One trainer told us to whack them on the nose
that made it worse. Another one said yelp and say that hurts. That made it worse.”
“Now he's practically an adult and he's still biting, especially when it's bedtime and he's tired and
cranky. So, what's a safe way to get them under control?” First of all, let me just say, I've got a
YouTube series on puppy biting and how to stop it. And I will tell you that avoiding a dog getting cranky
is a big part of it, but I believe my puppies really don't get into a bitey stage because I use the game of
tug to teach where it's appropriate to bite and when it's appropriate to bite and when you should let go.
So, check out on our YouTube page. I'll put the link in the show notes. The whole series on why your
puppy is biting, what you should and shouldn't be doing about it. Okay. So hopefully now I've given you
the tools that you can look at what you've got, how to categorize it, how to look for where the value,
how to come up with a different plan and how to know if their frequency is appropriate or you need to
go in a different direction.
That's it for me. I'll see you next time on Shaped by Dog.