KISS Dog Training Method
Have you ever stared wide-eyed and blank-faced at someone as they tried to explain something to you? Maybe while taking Harvard’s Math 551 or Topics in Metaphysics and Epistemology? If so, you will understand the retention rate (or lack thereof) after the talking head finishes their convoluted spiel. Fun Paw Care doesn’t find that copacetic or, umm, FUN.
In any case, keep it simple stupid (KISS) is right on par when training dogs and why we subscribe to Occam’s Razor and The Principle of Parsimony. You don’t need to create some elaborate plan, intricate workup or deliver indecipherable jargon to a client. Dog training and behavior modification are about keeping the protocol as simple, humane, understandable and engaging as possible. Yes, with applied behavior analysis (ABA) a functional assessment (FA) is necessary with all behavior modification protocols, as well as taking your time and not cutting corners, but you can still KISS. Simplicity = compliance, and understanding from both the pet parents and their dog/s.
Sure, some clients thrive on and want to dive right into the details of the science of behavior (ethology) and others want to know the least amount possible and just want their dog’s behavior to change ASAP (yesterday). Of course, in today’s instant gratification society people sometimes forget to breathe and want a well-behaved dog, now. But we are talking about unique individuals and a relationship with someone, not something. The relationship with your dog will last for many, many years. As with all relationships in life, the linearity between the strength, depth, understanding, bond, and compassion, between you and your dog is directly correlated to a more meaningful, fruitful, fulfilling life and experience for both animals.
Simple Methods ≠ Incorrect Methods
Simplicity doesn’t mean uneducated, ignorant or dumb. Contrarily, making protocols and training understandable while still using the humane hierarchy of behavioral intervention2, the science of dog training and behavior, B.F Skinner’s 4 quadrants of operant conditioning…etc. While teaching 2 different species how to communicate is not an easy thing to do skillfully with or without the KISS method.
Always keep puppy training force-free, expedient, humane, pain/ stress-free, and efficient.
When a dog trainer is only with your dog and family for a few hours a week (in many cases less), out of 168 hours, it becomes extremely important that the client develops a crystal clear understanding of what’s going on and how to implement humane, force-free behavior change when the dog trainer is not there.
But Russ, don’t you add on countless details about discriminative stimuli, Stimulus Delta or Differential Reinforcement for reducing problem behaviors and all of the variables (DRA, DRI, DRO, DRH, DRL) and jargon utilized in the training and behavior modification arena? Yes and no. Explanations about why something is happening and how to create behavior change, explained in the easiest to understand jargon, is typically where the conversation goes and what the client wants to know. We cater to individuals with unique desires and learning styles (both 2 and 4 legged). So depending on the unique individual (human) we may amp up the geek-speak or tone it down. Having the ability to do this and to utilize these tools in one’s dog training and behavior modification arsenal is priceless!
As Al said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.“