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August 6, 2010
http://briandavidphillips.net/…..gtrain.jpg) which was extremely controversial as the premise was a dog trainer helping housewives covertly adjust the behavior of their husbands through animal training methodologies. For instance, one woman in the series has an issue with her husband spending too much time playing computer games and not enough with the family. Rather than arguing with the husband, the dog trainer suggested that whenever he was up on the computer the wife should begin baking his favorite cookies. Sure enough, he would smell the cookies and stop playing his game and come right down. Eventually, he played the games much less and spent a great deal more time with the family helping in the kitchen and socializing.
Here's the trailer to give you more of an idea:
I have a keen interest in influence and conditioning, but unfortunately have not been able to find DVD or videos of this particular series so I've only read about the controversy (many complained that it was sexist and that if it had been about men using the same methods on their wives it never would have been broadcast).
Another resource worth looking at that addresses this sort of approach to training humans is What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love And Marriage: Lessons For People From Animals And Their Trainers by Amy Sutherland. Here are some tips excerpted from her book:
How to train your husband like a dog!
Hilarious book reveals that you can keep him on a tight leash
My husband Scott is well read, adventurous and makes me laugh: I love him. But he's also forgetful, untidy and a terrible time keeper. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness, but never fails to hear me when I curse him under my breath from afar.
Some years ago we took possession of Dixie, an eight-week-old excitable puppy that I took to obedience class.
Over six weeks, I watched her transform and marvelled at how I had managed to change and control another species. I wrote in my diary: 'Try on husband.' I did – and it worked. Here's how:
1. STOP NAGGING, STOP SHOUTING
I was a nag. About the screwed up tissues, the towels on the floor, taking too long in the bathroom. You name it, I was there nagging.
I felt Scott's behaviour had forced me to whinge and complain. But, animal trainers don't nag and, most of the time, they don't even correct bad behaviour – they have an approach called 'gentling' or 'affection training' which means rewarding the behaviour they like and disregarding what they don't like.
Nagging and shouting doesn't work. I'd done it for years and Scott was still messy, forgetful and always late. We humans assume that pointing out what we don't want makes clear what we do desire.
Punishment tends to have nasty side-effects such as apathy, fear and aggression. None of these are conducive to learning. A scared or raging animal does not make a good student.
2. IDENTIFY YOUR SPECIES
To make training easier, enlightened trainers learn all they can about a species to understand how it thinks, what it likes and dislikes, what comes easily to it and what doesn't.
My species is territorial when it comes to the remote control and bass settings on the stereo, he cannot hear high-pitched noises, enjoys a carnivorous diet and is prone to long periods of hibernation.
In the end it's always better to play to a species' strong suit. Scott, for example, is nocturnal – so early morning flights or early morning anything are a trial – so I avoid them.
He is food driven and can always be distracted, bribed or enticed with food. He needs exercising daily – great for mowing lawns, running errands and trips to the corner shop.
But, just as you can't stop a dog from digging or a camel from spitting, I'm sorry to say there's no stopping my husband from losing his wallet and keys.
But then good trainers don't want automaton animals. To love your animal is also to accept it – instincts and all.
3. IGNORE BAD BEHAVIOUR
Forget arguing about the mess your partner makes every time he cooks, or the way he leaves his smelly socks strewn around the bedroom.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learnt from the animal trainers I met is that, rather than punish or draw attention to behaviour you don't like, you should simply ignore it.
The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behaviour. If a behaviour provokes no response at all, it typically dies away.
So, when my dear husband was – yet again – tearing around our house in a bad-tempered, last-minute search for his keys, instead of stopping what I was doing to help him find them and try to calm him down, this time I said absolutely nothing, ignored his tantrum and carried on with the washing up.
It took a lot of discipline, but the results were immediate. He looked for them himself and found the keys. Without my attention, his temper fell far shy of its usual pitch and then waned like a fast moving storm. I was tempted to throw him a bone.
4. GOOD BOY!
Just as ignoring your partner's irritating habits will help to wean him off them, rewarding the things he does right – just as an animal trainer would – will also reinforce good behaviour.
Whether it's cleaning the car, putting the bins out or mowing the lawn, make a real point of thanking your partner as soon as he does something you like.
When my husband – a too-fast driver in my opinion – eased off the accelerator, I thanked him.
Likewise, if he managed to throw one dirty T-shirt into the laundry basket (even though the chair in our bedroom was buried under half his wardrobe)I quickly got good results from the combination of ignoring my husband's bad habits and praising his good ones.
Scott basked in my growing appreciation. He started to throw more laundry into the basket and drove less aggressively.
In fact, the more positive I was with my husband, the faster his husbandly defensiveness faded away. When I asked him to do something, he was more responsive.
His spousal deafness miraculously seemed to improve, too.
5. LURING AND BAITING
Luring is a way of saying: 'You will get this, but only if you do that'. A reward is promised for performing a task. Trainers have used it for centuries. A common way to teach a dog to sit is to hold a tasty morsel right over its head which prompts him to put his bottom on the floor.
Now, some trainers aren't keen on luring, as they think it gives the animal a chance to decide in advance whether the treat is big enough or not. The gamble is that the animal may hold out on you.
I am all for luring husbands, but you must judge if yours will think the prize is worth the bother.
I once lured Scott to Ikea on a Saturday with the promise of a plateful of their Swedish meatballs in the restaurant afterwards. It only worked once – he decided the scrum of shoppers wasn't worth the tasty treat. But his favourite meal cooked and served at the dining room table will always get him away from the TV and off the sofa.
6. ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN
To get an animal, and therefore your partner, to perform a particular task, you need to break the task down into baby steps and focus on the most important part of it.
Overcomplicated and confused messages about what's required will get you nowhere.
For example, if I wanted Scott to be dressed and ready on time for a dinner party, I shouldn't also expect him to have drinks poured.
If he did manage to have the wine open – great – but that was icing on the cake. Getting dressed on time was the most important part of the task and that was what I had to focus on and praise him for.
I also realised I needed to stop confusing him by raising the bar mid-behaviour – meaning no more 'thanks-butting' as I call it, (as in 'thanks for getting the shopping, but you've bought the wrong kind of milk'.) Raising the bar not only confuses men as to what you want from them, but it also demotivates.
7. DON'T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY
As humans, we tend to project all kinds of human characteristics, motivations and talents on to animals. We assume the dog chewed our new pair of Ugg boots out of spite. He didn't.
Projecting human feelings and characteristics on to an animal can lead to bad training decisions – so if you're going to think like an animal trainer, you need to keep a cool head and not take the other people's actions so personally.
Previously, I'd see yet another pile of Scott's sweaty cycling clothes left on the bathroom floor as an affront to me, a symbol of how he didn't care enough about my feelings. Now, in animal trainer mode, I considered Scott's behaviour with a cooler head.
He left his smelly cycling shorts on the bathroom floor not because he didn't love me, but because it was simply convenient.
He has a bad memory and a worse sense of smell – it wasn't meant as a personal affront to me, and wasn't worth rowing about.
Not taking your partner's actions personally is liberating, but no easy task. I realised that I, like many mates, took way too much personally – and often saw offence where none was intended.
8. DON'T DOMINATE
We, like other members of the animal kingdom, push to see who's the boss. We primates are big on hierarchy. We want others to know who is in charge.
I, like so many wives, unwittingly skirmished to win control of my marriage by thrusting 'my way' on Scott. He had to take my route to the shops, and I thought I was being helpful when I showed him how to cut vegetables how I did them.
But all I was doing was planting my flag and claiming my territory. When Scott stubbornly resisted I snarled.
Dog trainers warn students to guard against their deep instinct to boss another creature around, as it does not encourage a positive relationship with your pet.
Instead, you have a relationship built on fear and resentment rather than one centred around trust and love.
9. PICK YOUR MOMENT
Trainers never try to teach an animal when it's having an off day.
Unfortunately, when it comes to relationships, we often pick the worst moment, say, when someone is frantic over a lost pet, wallet or pay cheque to drive home a point – 'If you just used a lead, kept track of your stuff or deposited the cheque like I told you, this wouldn't have happened!'
Or we try to tackle a problem when we've got PMS or are feeling stressed about something.
We may mean well, but a point made in this way will typically fall on deaf ears and may even provoke an angry swipe.
People, like animals, aren't wired to learn or teach lessons when they're out of sorts.
Instead, be sure to choose a time to 'train' your partner when you are both feeling calm and in a good mood.
10. READ THE CUES
An animal trainer cannot let his or her attention wander – ever. A missed cue, even from a small animal can have big consequences.
Trainers can't stand around hoping that the glaring big cat won't pounce or that the agitated dog won't bite.
They need to be able to read the signals their animals give them so they can anticipate their every move and act quickly.
This technique works well with human animals, too.
Most nights, my husband beats me to the bathroom. He likes to take a book or magazine with him, which means it's always a good half hour before I can finally get in there.
I had tried rapping on the door and getting angry but nothing worked – until I realised I needed to look for cues – and stop the behaviour before it started.
Now if he wanders towards the staircase with a magazine in hand or casually asks me if I've seen his bike catalogue at the end of the evening – I make a dash for it, calling 'all I need is a minute'.
This way, I can scrub, floss and brush and settle down to watch a bit of television in bed until he joins me.
Obviously, while this piece and the book are focused on how women can train their husbands, the material can just as easily be applied to husbands training or conditioning their wives. In fact, the very worthwhile POSITIVE DISCIPLINE movement (http://www.positivediscipline.com.
Better yet, pick up Amy Sutherland's book What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage and two more by Karen Pryor, Don't Shoot Your Dog and Reaching the Animal Mind. You will find them very useful in understanding both animal and – more importantly – human behavior and conditioning.
Of course, and this is very important, if one really wants to supercharge conditioning or training programs, these sort of methods can work even more powerfully with programs built around hypnotic conditioning. See http://briandavidphillips.net/store/ for a whole slew of products that can easily be incorporated into a positive reinforcement conditioning and training program withing ANY CONTEXT and when I say any, I really do mean any.
All the best,
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