One of things I talk to my clients about a lot is over-training your dog. See, there’s an 80/100 rule: if we teach our dogs 100% of something, they will follow through with 80% of it when we’re not in the room.
Let me use an example. How about counter surfing? We’ve all seen dogs counter surf, when they grab something off the counter and gulp it down. Mmmm, Cheetos! Gone in a blink!
Most people tell their dogs not to take food off the counter. But whenever you leave the room, your dog is probably going to take one extra step that it shouldn’t. If you’ve told it to not eat food of the counter, but it can sniff, what’s the next step? Eating food!
My dogs don’t counter surf, because they get in trouble when they start looking at the counter. I don’t even wait for them to go sniff it. This means that when I leave the room, they’ll take an extra step… and sniff the counter, but any food left there is still safe.
So think about what you don’t want your dogs doing, and then imagine what two steps away from that is. That’s what you want to enforce! Does your dog steal from the bathroom trash? Well, then we need him to do no more than sniff the trash when you’re not around. The step farther from that is not going into the bathroom at all, which is what should be enforced.
We’re adding some leeway, essentially, so that when our dogs push the boundaries, the boundary that we really care about is still intact. Sneaky, isn’t it? But man, it does wonders!