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What happens after we get a speeding ticket? What happens when your doctor tells you your cholesterol is quite high? What happens when your accountant tells you that you have spent much more than you have earned?

Well, if any of the above matter to you, a couple of things will happen.

  • One, it may create some fear (what might happen if I don’t change this or it happens again).
  • Two, it should create some serious reflection.
  • Three, it should create some better choices in the future.

If the consequence matters, it should cause you to choose a better, more healthier choice next time. All the above are about communicating and behaviors and their possible consequences.

Consequences are the result of our choices and actions. And they serve a purpose. Their purpose is to remind us that something we are doing is putting us and our quality of life at risk. And if you look at consequences as a good guide that enables us to reorder, course correct, change the behaviors that are creating big problems, then it can be seen as a gift.

Consequences for your dog should create the same type of effect. Of course the context will be different with your dog. They won’t be overspending, eating too much or speeding down the highway, but they might be bolting out the front door, jumping on people, attacking another dog, barking excessively, counter surfing, guarding their food, pulling like crazy on a walk, or destroying stuff in the house. All of these behaviors impact your dogs overall quality of life as well as yours. Dogs get hit by cars by bolting out doors or yards, dogs are returned to shelters daily for jumping, guarding, destruction, aggression, etc. These are facts and it’s real stuff.

But in our current dog owning culture, consequences are frowned upon by many owners as well as some “trainers”. They’re things we are told can be dangerous to your dogs mental and emotional well being, as well as detrimental to your relationship with your dog. Best to ignore the bad and reinforce the good right?

But what if life treated us the exact same way?

What if the police officer said it’s OK to speed and drive dangerously? What if your doctor ignored your high cholesterol results but said “nice job” to you losing three pounds? What if your accountant said “Nice work on ONLY spending 5K over your budget and not 10K!”?

What would happen is, instead of realizing the gravity of what your actions are creating (and danger they’re putting you in), you would be allowed to believe things aren’t as bad or serious as they actually are. And the absence of clearly directed consequences for unhealthy behavior would put you directly in harms way.

By not being direct about what is and isn’t okay, by ignoring the truth of our actions, by prioritizing things that feel good but aren’t really true, we would be setting ourselves up for disaster.

And it’s the same with our dogs.

We don’t clearly let them know what is and isn’t okay. We ignore the bad and reward only the good. We give our dogs a partial view of reality and then they pay the price for that lack of clarity and truth. People who recommend (and some insist on) ignoring the bad and rewarding the good, are people who are not connecting reality – universal reality.

The beauty of your dog knowing clearly what’s acceptable, healthy and wanted and what is not allowed, dangerous and totally unacceptable should be clearly taught to keep your dog safe, happy and living a long life.

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