This morning I got a call from a client who all excited exclaimed, “I had an epiphany while walking my dog the other day. The pulling is the same thing as the whining for him, it’s all related to arousal control!”
and I laughed. Because moments like that for a person mean they are on the road to no longer needing me. Which is fantastic.
This client already has a large number of techniques and games and tools they’ve learned to help their dog learn, embrace and practice more socially appropriate arousal control. And once they as the owner are able to independently start seeing the various ways their dog attempts to cope with arousal in less desirable ways, they can then begin to independent of me help their dog generalize more appropriate coping skills on this like the walk this client was taking.
I have said countless times, “Behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum.” Chances are if a dog practices a behavior or behavior set in 1 context, they are practicing it or a variation of it in any number of other contexts. And that behavior is meeting the dog’s need someway. And if you want to change a behavior or change the way a dog feels about any situation, you need to figure out what need that behavior is meeting and then work to address that underlying need in a way that works for that dog and works better for the humans in the picture.
“I had an epiphany, it’s all related!” Was a very happy phone call to get.