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

Marissa MartinoPaws & Reward Podcast

The training and behavior modification process can be a daunting task for pet parents. Join Marissa Martino interview Dr. Chris Pachel, board-certified veterinary behaviorist, as they discuss four strategies to help support pet parents.

1. Reaching out 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 as well as validating their experience is a very important step of the process. 

Pet parents: Please choose a trainer that makes you feel safe and supported during this process, from their training philosophy to their communication skills. 

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

We fully support any pet parent that wants to avoid the behavior change process all together and manage the environment to prevent the behavior issue from taking place. A few important topics about management to know before choosing this route:

  • If you manage the issue, it does not mean the issue is resolved. If you avoid the dog park since your dog resources guards toys from other dogs, if placed in that situation in the future, your dog will guard toys again.   
  • 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. 

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 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.

3. Use the canine behavior change process with humans!

As behavior consultants, we use a very useful behavior change process when building training plans. The acronym (A.B.C.)below allows 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: 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! 

4. The behavior change 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. Training takes time, there will be set backs and remember to celebrate all the wins 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!

Get notified when new episodes drop so you don’t miss a thing!