Jackson and I were invited to participate in another obedience demo this morning. Instead of elementary students this time, it was college students. One of our friends from our training club is an English professor at a nearby community college. A small group of us performed some exercises with our dogs, and the students were instructed to observe, record and relate what they witnessed in the dogs' behaviors to human learning. There were a lot of questions and discussion about how animals and people show signs of stress; the different personalities observed; and the impacts of positive and negative reinforcements to motivate individuals (dogs and people) to learn and perform behaviors. It was all very interesting, and it got me thinking more about Jackson's personality and what motivates him and what stresses him.
Susan Garrett had another great post on her blog today about people labeling their dog by what they perceive to be their limitations. And, they are doing so to overcome some embarrassment or frustration they are feeling about their dog's behavior. Boy, did that hit home! If I had a nickel for every time I made a joking comment about Jackson doing things in 'slow motion,' I'd be rich : ) But, what is my expectation of his performance doing to reinforce that behavior that I have found so frustrating? Maybe there is something to that 'self-fulfilling prophecy' comment?
Susan goes on to say, "I would like to suggest every time you make this joke or repeat your limited belief that your dog is _________ (you fill in the blank) you are creating a new reality that does not have to be yours or your dog’s reality."
Hmmmmm, maybe it's time to start focusing on what Jackson does well, how far he's come, and what he is capable of. Some food for thought : )