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Motivation and Editing Your Expectations

Today, Crystal, Stacy, and Robin take a deep dive into motivators, or the things that drive your dog to do the things that it does, and they explore different ways to harness those motivators. Stacy explores how she makes activities intrinsically motivating, so that the work itself is interesting and not just reward driven. In doing so, something that they coin a “positive addiction” emerges. Stacy then introduces her ultimate sourcing game, where she created a course in her crate room that was so engaging for the dogs, they’d be eagerly waiting for their next turn.

They discuss the positive psychology of flow state, more commonly referred to as being “in the zone,” where one is so immersed in their focus that they feel energized by and enjoy the process of the activity. They then explore how to utilize that flow state with dogs. They discuss the balance of optimizing the level of difficulty set for a dog in a way that maximizes the challenge without completely wearing the dog out.

Robin divulges one of her pet peeves: when people say “reward your dog” instead of “reinforcing behavior” within the context of training, which leads into a conversation about behavior chains. They introduce how behavior chains work before getting into its pieces that make it up and the factors involved, such as timing.

They give a more in depth break down of motivators, explaining how they work scientifically. They discuss the importance of not overworking a dog before competition, or as Robin says, “Don’t train until it’s ugly.” They explore how to prevent distractions from interfering with training. Crystal shares a trick for getting a dog to sniff on cue, using Hannah Branigan’s tips of training. They discuss the value of the “victory pee” and how to handle your dog’s inner omnivore.

They explore the importance of changing mindsets, and how changing your own mindset can impact a change in your dog’s mindset. Crystal explains how she thinks of what would cause problems in reinforcing a behavior as a means of figuring out what the dog’s motivation is.

Key Topics:

  • Making activities intrinsically motivating (2:26)

  • The ultimate sourcing game (4:58)

  • Flow theory (7:10)

  • Finding the right amount of challenge (8:38)

  • Rewarding versus reinforcing (14:20)

  • Behavior chains (18:39)

  • Motivators (23:59)

  • Avoiding overworking (33:28)

  • Distractions (40:52)

  • Sniffing on cue (43:51)

  • Victory pees (48:40)

  • Eating grass (50:51)

  • Changing mindsets (51:53)

  • Reversing motivation (55:32)


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