I was buzzing through town the other day when I spied a dog training franchise. The slogan on their truck said something like “No, we DON’T teach husbands or kids.” I had to laugh because here at Smart Dog University, that’s exactly what we DO! In addition to dogs, we teach husbands, kids, wives, neighbors, co-workers, and relatives.
Here are some tips that will help you get that husband (or whomever) behaving a little more like you want.
The best part? Unlike the franchise, you don’t need a special collar to get your husband to do what you ask. Ditch the crazy training advice from the pop-up franchises and start doing what works.
Bonus: the tips we offer won’t get you in trouble with the law when you try them on people (unlike those collars that franchise uses to “teach”). Use those collars on people and you’d wind up in jail for abuse — if it’s against the law to use them on a person, why would we want to use them on our dogs?!
Step 1: Determine what you WANT to happen.
Example: You want dishes in the dishwasher.
Phrase it positively, like I did above. In other words, “Put the dishes in the dishwasher” is way more powerful than “Quit putting the dishes in the sink!”
Step 2: Determine what might make doing what you want a little easier than doing the thing that bugs you.
Example: Leave the dishwasher door open so it’s obvious and clear — and easy — to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Or put a little sign near the sink that says “Dishes in the dishwasher, please.”
Step 3: Decide what motivates your husband (kid, aunt, sister, etc.).
Example: If your husband enjoys it when you say good things about him to your friends, be sure to mention it to your friends (within earshot of your husband) when he does something good.
Everyone is different. “Atta boy” works well for some people, while cash works for a different subset, and public praise is what does it for another person.
Step 4: Close enough is just as good as perfect.
Example: Breakfast and dinner dishes found their way to the dishwasher, but there was one coffee cup in the sink at the end of the day. One coffee cup in the sink is way better than two plates, a knife, and two forks, right? Right! So take it and be happy about it!
Step 5: Be generous with that reinforcement.
Example: Your husband likes to be praised in front of your friends, so if he’s been better about getting some of the dishes to the dishwasher, tell your friends how helpful he’s been around the house. Give him the credit he’s earned!
Whatever you identified in Step 3 above, be ready to pay it out in bulk when you get something close to your goal behavior.
Notice that none of those steps involved any special equipment?
Focusing on a tool — especially one that’s illegal to use on people — is where that franchise made their mistake. Qualified professional trainers understand that behavior can be modified in people, dogs, horses, fish, cats, birds, just about anything — without special equipment.
Here’s where good, experienced, and educated trainers can come in and teach the whole family, not just the dog. We CAN teach husbands. We CAN teach kids. Heck, we can teach you how to modify your co-workers’ behavior if you want!
We understand what motivates and what reinforces behavior. We don’t need no stinkin’ “special equipment!” And neither do you. Now get out there and get those dishes in that dishwasher!
Talk back! Leave a comment below.
Tell us the coolest thing you taught your husband (coworker, kid, neighbor) to do using the principles outlined above.