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I’m a big fan of modifying environments so you don’t have to train the dog.

Or more a big fan of modifying environments so you don’t have to train the dog on niggly bits of life that go against what the dog naturally wants to do because the environment now minimizes or prevents such behaviors and now I get to spend time and energy and thought on training stuff that I get more fun and enjoyment out of.  Like how we have an in cabinet kitchen trash can, so I don’t have to actively train dogs to stay out of the kitchen trash.  Or how we don’t have a door bell so I don’t have to actively counter condition the dogs to that sound.  Because training dogs to do those 2 things isn’t really fun for me, and simple environmental modification means I don’t have to.

A friend with a new to her adult dog recently reached out to me about her dog’s habit of tanking on water that isn’t a medically related behavior.

I asked her, “where’s the water dish?”

“In the kitchen”

“In the kitchen, where you spend about 75+% of your day?  With the dog hanging out there with you too?  In your tiny little kitchen that doesn’t fit much else but you, the dog and a water dish?”

“Yes”

“Move the water dish to the bathroom.”

Environmental modification.  Now when the dog wants a drink he has to make more of a conscious decision to get up and seek out the water dish, rather than ‘oh we’re in the kitchen again, I’m kind of bored, oh look here’s my water dish, drinking water is something to do…’

She’s been data tracking since we chatted to try to get a better handle of his patterns.  Sure enough, since the water dish has been out of the kitchen and in the bathroom his drinking, just with that simple environmental shift, has decreased to closer to normal levels for a dog his size.

Thoughtfully change the environment, change the behavior.  Awesome.

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