Friday, May 4, 2012

Enforcing boundaries is not being a meano (or so they say)

While I've seen some students of mine struggle with the idea that new behaviors can be taught more quickly and efficiently with positive reinforcement than with leash tugs and alpha rolls, my own struggle is with being a bit "tough" when it's called for. 

Occasionally, everyone is able to just Chill Out together on the bed
In my ongoing struggle with Fozzie and Lamar's nighttime turf battles, it's been hard for me to just lay down some rules about where everyone should sleep. Fozzie craves physical contact so much, and looks so sweet and innocent as he approaches the bed, I couldn't bear to just tell him to stay in the living room and sleep on the couch--even though I know he's quite happy there. I thought that by just giving everyone treats, I could stay on the right side of positive and make everyone happy.

In our TTouch session with Lamar, one of the things Pam really emphasized was that the easiest solution to our nighttime grumpiness dilemma is just better management. 

It won't kill Fozzie to stay in the other room, at least until Lamar is asleep. In fact, it may make him feel safe and content to have his human tell him exactly where he needs to go. 

When I've actually done it, he goes right out to sleep on the couch and doesn't come back. Sometimes since we started doing this, he's just chosen to go out to the couch on his own, seemingly relieved to escape poor Lamar's drama. 

Sometimes, I just tell Fozzie to stay on his bed, where he can look at us but not be in Lamar's space. He's able to do it! 

What self control to be able to look at us and resist being close to us, to feel the tension of Lamar looking at him too but feel secure enough in himself that he didn't need to anxiously seek out human contact. 

A good exercise indeed for dogs to learn valuable life skills of impulse control...while this human learns to control my own impulse to cuddle Fozzie every minute I possibly can. 

Do I get some yummy vegan human treats if I get better at it?


  1. Good job! I could use a couple of lessons on self control also. You can have some treats!

  2. I'm a tough love disciplinarian. The Other Half is a softie (with animals). No prizes for guessing who Georgia's favourite human is.

    Yes, you can have some yummy vegan treats (do they really exist?)

  3. Hi Y'all,

    Stoppin' to say "hello" again. My Humans are facing a similar decision when we go back to the shore. Here I don't sleep in the bedroom. There I've inched my way inside the door. Papa thinks, in the interest of his allergies, I need to sleep outside the bedroom door there too. :(

    Hope you continue having a fantastic week!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  4. A little self-control never hurt anyone. Applies to furry kids as well. Ah dad, pass the treats, hurry up :)

  5. I'm glad I don't have to make that decision!! If we didn't have little Bob, I would leave the bedroom door open and they could sleep wherever they wanted. There are many nights where I go and drag Sampson off the couch because if I didn't he would be shut out of the bedroom and I would feel terrible. But then that is me projecting my feelings onto the dog.

    Delilah likes to be in the bed, although she is quite content to curl up at the bottom. I'd prefer if they slept on my chest. :-)

    It sounds like you are managing quite well. Go treat yourself. :-)

  6. Guess what? The Other Half let Georgia onto the couch last night while watching telly (in our holiday house, behind closed door so I wouldn't know). After we all went to bed, I heard her moving around, went out to check and found her sprawled out on the couch by herself. Ai yai yai! They learn FAST!

  7. If we could tackle impulse control 100%, our life would be totally hassle free! It doesn't work that way though, does it? Or at least, it doesn't just happen like magic. I love the first picture!

  8. Goes to show that we think it's all about dog management. But so often it's people management. Reinforcing our own impulse control can be so hard when cute doggies are in the mix.

    I think you deserve a yummy vegan treat. I even have a recipe for you: It's delicious and very quick to make.


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