Episode #1: 4 Strategies to Support You During the Training Process with Dr. Chris Pachel

Marissa MartinoPaws & Reward Podcast

The training and dog behavior modification process can be a daunting task for pet parents. Join me in this episode of the Paws & Reward Podcast for an interview with Dr. Chris Pachel, board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

We discuss four important strategies to help support pet parents during the dog training process. 

Ways to Support Pet Parents During the Training and Dog Behavior Modification Process

1. Reaching out to a dog trainer for professional help can be a vulnerable process. 

As trainers and behavior consultants, we know that most pet parents did not acquire dogs in order to deal with complex and sometimes even dangerous behavior concerns. Reaching out for help can be very vulnerable. 

Trainers: Providing compassion to the pet parent and validating their experience is a very important step of the dog behavior modification training process. 

Pet parents: Please choose a trainer that makes you feel safe and supported during this process. You should align with their training philosophy, be able to ask questions and be met with compassion throughout the process.   

A quote from the Paws & Reward Podcast about dog behavior modification

2. Manage the environment to promote success for both the dog and you! 

Management is a KEY part of the dog behavior modification process. Management strategies prevent the behavior issue from taking place, getting worse, and keeping everyone safe. A few important topics about management to consider:

  • If you manage the issue, it does not mean the issue is resolved. For example, if you avoid the dog park because your dog resource guards toys from other dogs, your dog will still guard toys if placed in that situation in the future.
  • Management always fails. No matter what. We are human and real life happens as we cannot account for everything that will take place. It’s smart to have a plan B and C to account for when plan A fails. 
  • Make sure to choose a management plan that you can implement. Identify the impact it can make on your life and your dog’s life and set reminders to make that plan happen daily in order to achieve success. 

Dog behavior management plans could include:

  • Avoiding the dog park since your dog is getting into arguments there. 
  • Avoiding the farmer’s market since your dog is exhibiting signs of stress and fear in that context. 
  • Using a white noise machine and closing the blinds to reduce the barking at the window. 

Trainers: Brainstorm efficient and effective ways for the pet parent to manage the environment to prevent the unwanted behavior from taking place. 

Pet parents: Offer yourself full permission to manage the situation if it is safe to do so.

A quote from the Paws & Reward podcast about dog behavior modification

3. Use the dog behavior modification process with humans!

As behavior consultants, we use a very useful dog behavior modification process when building training plans. The acronym (A.B.C. – see below) allows the pet parents to get curious about their dog’s reaction by looking at the whole picture. 

  • Antecedent = Stimuli, events or conditions that cue the dog to perform a behavior.
  • Behavior = The response from the dog.
  • Consequence = The response from the environment that takes place after the behavior has occurred. The consequence determines if the dog’s behavior increases or decreases. 

Problematic behavior sequence:

  • Antecedent = Person approaches dog. 
  • Behavior = The dog jumps up.  
  • Consequence = The person says hello to the dog.  

New sequence: When working on dog behavior modification, we replace the unwanted behavior (jumping up) with a new behavior choice (sitting). 

  • Antecedent = Person approaches dog. 
  • Behavior = The dog sits. 
  • Consequence = The person says hello to the dog.  

The sitting behavior should increase since the dog gets access to the same reinforcing consequence of the person saying hello. This process is very helpful for modifying human behavior as well. 

Trainers: Remember you are modifying human behavior in order to modify canine behavior. Make that process easy for the pet parent as well as the dog.

Pet parents: If you want to modify your dog’s behavior, you must also consider your behavior as well. The same rules apply! 

A quote from the Paws & Reward podcast about dog behavior modification.

4. The dog behavior modification process can be hard at times….and very rewarding!  

Since behavior change and modifying habits can be a nonlinear process, expect resistance and hardship to show up. You may be resistant to the process, the dog, the behavior and even yourself at times. Take care of yourself during the process. Dog training takes time, whether you’re working with a professional dog trainer or you’re doing it own your own. There will be setbacks, however, remember to celebrate all the wins (no matter how small) along the way! 

Trainers: Focus on celebrating the wins for the pet parent as well as supporting them during the setbacks. 

Pet parents: Take care of yourself during this process!

Ready to Learn More About Supporting You and Your Dog During Training?

Explore our Six Connection Principles to learn more about what it takes to more fully connect with your dog. Whether you’re working on behavior change or simply want to learn how to be a better pet parent, these strategies will help you connect with your pet on a whole new level.

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