Random Thoughts - Being the Giver of Awesomeness

I want to tell a story about Ally. 

Ally from the very beginning was a very social puppy, she LOVES people and loves to interact with people and wants to meet everyone. When she was young she loved meeting everyone and being pet, I never told her she couldn't do that.  What I did do is always have the best treats and the best rewards/interactions. 

Once Ally was old enough I entered her first NADAC trial, and in our first run she ran over to every bar setter. 

Many people told me that I shouldn't have let her visit as a puppy, I should have kept her interactions to only with me and no one should have pet her or interacted with her in any way. I quietly disagreed and went on my way with Ally. 

For the next two trials she ran to bar setters, the judge, scribes, and timers. And every time I would run toward the finish line and called for her, as soon as she came to me I would tell her how amazing she was, leash her up and exit. At our crating area, I would reward her with treats, her toy, and tell her how good she was. 

And then at one trial she took a passing glance at a bar setter and came right to work, I told her how amazing she was and continued on our run. From that point forward she never looked at the ring crew again. 

I think we have a tendency to put a lot of emphasis on what our dogs are doing wrong, or the behavior we want to fix or correct, instead of the behavior we want to reward or see more often. 

In Ally's case, I never wanted to tell her she couldn't visit people, that would be like telling a child not to touch something, just makes them want to touch it more! But if I make the behavior I want more rewarding, and more appealing, they will want to do that. If I would have focused on telling Ally not to visit people and continued to nag her about visiting people, what would happen when I remove the leash? She is going to be free and run to the people! But if I make myself the giver of all the awesomeness she may go to someone (like she did in the beginning of her career) but, I am going to give her more and she is going to want what I have. 

Focus on the behavior you want to reward, not the behavior you don't like. 

Amanda 

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