“Leave it,” as traditionally taught, where you hold out food, but deny access to that food until the animal gives up, always seemed contrary to the traits I want to see more of in my learners. These days I deliberately create training scenarios that teach the exact opposite lesson in fact: I don’t want quitting. I don’t want giving up. I want my dogs to learn that behaving works. Persistence works. Keep trying. Be brave. You got this. It will pay off for you.
When the everyday pet owner hears an instructor talk about “impulse control” in relation to her dog, when that dog eats forbidden food, gets too excited about other dogs, or rolls in goose poop, cultural fog makes it that much harder not to place the onus of correct behavior on something inside that animal; and from there, it is a slippery slope, I find, first to blaming, and then to punishing the animal for simply doing behaviors that have worked in the past.
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