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Switching Your Mindset

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𝑳𝒆𝒕'𝒔 𝑻𝒂𝒍𝒌... 𝑺𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒄𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒀𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝑴𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒔𝒆𝒕

A switch of mindset can be incredibly fulfilling to implement into your life. When a dog displays behavioural issues, it is easy for us to form a fixation on what is deemed undesirable, or "negative". However, it is important to remember these behaviours are purely reflections of a dog's emotional state based on learnt consequence, rather than intentional defiance. We often fall into labelling dogs based on these presumptions, stating they are reactive, aggressive, stubborn, naughty, or untrainable. In order to see an improvement in their choices, we must actively look for desirable behaviours during the day and provide relevant reinforcement.

A classic example of what happens when we focus on intrusive thoughts is the statement: 'Don't think about pink elephants'. Most people will automatically imagine pink elephants - in an occurrence coined Ironic Process Thinking. In relation to dogs, some canine professionals will encourage people to "reward good behaviour, ignore the bad", however you can imagine how being advised to simply ignore behaviour you do not want to see can ironically consume the thoughts of canine guardians.

Instead of supressing the thoughts of undesirable behaviours, it is most effective to actively address any issues you face whilst seeking to note positive choices. Instead of being reactive in response to what you do not want to see, flip your mindset to be proactive in order to prevent it happening in the first place.

Rather than concerning yourself with all the "bad" behaviours your dog displays, I suggest writing a list of all the things your dog is good at, and what you like them doing - this could be as simple as when they lie on their bed. Then, seek to positively reinforce these behaviours throughout the day to increase the frequency they occur. You will be surprised by how often your dog does things you like which you never previously paid attention to!

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