Join Date: Nov 2017
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My experience is very limited with dogs, but I worked as a behavior specialist with teenage girls and you’d be surprised how much of that translates!
What I have learned is that many human children and teenagers don’t do well with ‘no,’ sometimes even when they seem to understand. Often, as Karen describes, they are reacting or responding to the person and the body language, they aren’t really internalizing. In the realm of adolescent behavior, it’s pretty generally accepted that there are are alternative ways to set clear limits without saying “no.” One of the benefits of this approach is that “no” becomes much more powerful intervention in an emergency. An exercise that was really effective for me was a simple workshop where we did role plays and the “adults” weren’t allowed to say ‘no.’ We could only give the other person, pretending to be a child, instructions, or describe appropriate behavior. It really forced me to stop and consider what it is that I want every time I say ‘no.’ At the time I had been working for a couple of years already and had some experience implementing the concepts and I remember being surprised at how often i started to say “no” when a “child” would ask for all of the ice cream.
I have found using the same mindset to be very helpful with our dog. When he was going through his nippy stage, I thought, what I want him to do instead is bite something else. Something about the shift in thinking turns it into a goal, and it makes it so much easier to see everything clearly. I always needed to have sonething nearby that he could chew. He stopped nipping at me long before he stopped with the rest of my family. DD would do the whole yelp thing and say “No!” Really loud, and he would stop, but for a long time he would just look at her.
Whenever an issue is complex, because my experience with training dogs is so very limited, I always go back to using “sit.” It gives me a moment to stop and figure out what I want, and what I can have him do instead. And then I come here to the forum and search for steps to teach what I want!