It’s not uncommon for me to refer to my client’s dogs as bank robbers, so today, let’s unpack what that means.
In life, some dogs are honest bankers, and others are bank robbers. Most dogs go threw life without any need to cause much of a ruckus. These are honest bankers. The dogs who wait in line just like everyone else, the dogs who save for a rainy day. Then there are the bank-robbing dogs, the dogs who try and get away with anything they can. If you have one of these dogs, leave an AMEN in the comments. These dogs robbed their first bank at a young and because they got away with it, they continue to plan future heists.
Ok, still following me?
Each bank robbery that goes unpunished produces confidence that the next robbery will also go just as smoothly.
Take a human bank robber, if he/she got busted and locked up on their first attempt, what do you think the chances are that they would try the 2nd attempt? Darn near zero. Ok, what if they got away with the 1st attempt? Can we assume that they would have a reasonable desire to see if they can pull off a clean robbery again? And what if they got away with three robberies? Then four, then five? You get my point.
The more robberies your dog gets away with, the more likely they are to try another robbery when they get out of the clink because they know that they can get away with it.
So, what the heck does this cross-species Oceans 11 tale have to teach us about dog training?
If your dog loves to test the boundaries, you will have four options;
1: Prevent your dog from doing bad stuff
2: Correct your dog to decrease the likelihood of your dog doing bad stuff in the future
3: Pay your dog well when they make a good choice and hope that the issues go away (spoiler alert, that rarely happens)
4: Correct your dog so they stop, then pay them well for making better decisions. (This is what I do)
Millions of dog trainers around the world say that all dogs, ALL DOGS can be trained to be trustworthy and social without the use of ANY corrections. They say that if you have to use correction to work with any dog, you are doing it wrong. Bull crap.
****Listen, if positive-only training worked 100% of the time, I wouldn’t have a job. ****
Ok back to the bank robbers.
Let’s imagine that Canada or the USA decided to abolish any laws that allow for law enforcement to put people in jail for robbing banks. Stupid, I know. What if they decided to rectify the few influx of bank robberies by putting old ladies outside each bank to hand out $5 bills every time someone walked into a bank and didn’t rob the bank.
Would that work? Actually, I think that it would work about 85% of the time. Most humans would not rob the banks because of their conscience, and the $5 is nice too. 15% would rob the bank and then push the old lady over and grab her stack of fives on the way out of the door.
I tend to train the 15% of dogs that we just discussed in human form.
If you have a dog in the 85%, I’ll never meet you because your positive-only training will work just fine! If you are in the 15%, you will try the positive for months or years and then inevitably come over to the dark side once you realize that the positive only training won’t get you an off-leash, trustworthy dog, or even a dog that can walk dog the street without your neighbors pretending that they didn’t see you.
If your dog is in the 15%, don’t worry, there is away. If your dog was segregated from the other dogs, even as a puppy in puppy class, I got your back. 15% dogs are what I do. A toast to the bank robbers.