Behaviour Modification by Jim Gillies BSc A.Dip CBM
Before beginning a training and behaviour modification program you should refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, the Humane Hierarchy and force-free training standards. In addition to those guidelines CBT Dog Behaviour endorses the 5 freedoms which are internationally recognised and summarised as:
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst (never withhold water in the name of training, and ensure calorie requirements are met)
2. Freedom from discomfort (provide adequate shelter from the elements)
3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease (with veterinary care, and conscientious training and handling)
4. Freedom to express normal behaviour (exercise, and socialization)
5. Freedom from fear and distress (use love, understanding and training methods designed without force or pain)
Once you have educated yourself on the philosophy and ethics surrounding dog training and behaviour modification and you have met your dog’s basic needs including a visit to a vet, and received a clean bill of health for your dog, you can begin to explore the complex world of behaviour modification.
Step 1: 2 Week Stress Vacation
Identify all your dog’s triggers and remove them from the environment or avoid taking your dog places where their triggers exist. Walk your dog in quiet places or go out after dark when everyone else is already home. If your dog likes other dogs, then set up a play date with a friend’s dog and avoid dog parks. Constant stress will make behaviour modification very difficult or impossible.
Step 2: Management
Put management techniques into action. Have your dog fitted with a proper harness and take the time to desensitize them to it so they are comfortable wearing the equipment. Start working on muzzle training for dogs with a bite history or dogs that are suspected of being biters. Invisible fences are very dangerous, especially for reactive and aggressive dogs. Use baby gates and crates inside the house and leashes and long lines outside the house.
Step 3: Relationship Building and Obedience Training
During the time your dog is recovering from their stressors you can entertain them by playing games designed to teach functional obedience cues like look at me, follow me, sit, down and stay. All training should be fun and light hearted with a heavy emphasis on positive reinforcement. You can also do massages and other calming exercises together.