Dog training by Brene Brown
I was just re-reading a Brene Brown book (The Gifts of Imperfection), and was struck (as I often am) by the parallels in creating reliable, positive human behavior, and how it’s the exact same with our dogs.
Here’s a paragraph: “Additionally, if we don’t follow through with appropriate consequences, people learn to dismiss our requests – even if they sound like threats or ultimatums. If we ask our kids to keep their clothes off the floor and they know the only consequence of not doing so is a few minutes of yelling, it’s fair for them to believe that it’s really not that important to us.”
What I love is that she makes it clear that the withholding of valuable consequences is unfair to the child (the child will interpret and behave according to the consequence structure), and that just because you feel it’s a consequence (yelling and carrying on) it doesn’t mean it’s one that will actually change behavior.
And that’s really the trick here. When consequences are consistent and believable, you rarely have to share them. When they’re inconsistent and underwhelming, the human or dog will likely continue to push against them, over and over. It creates a natural cycle of resistance.
So our job, as parents, friends, spouses, and dog owners, is to ensure we set appropriate boundaries and expectations, and then when/if these are trespassed against, share consequences that are valuable enough to change future behavior, reinforce mutual respect, and help us all live together more happily and harmoniously.
Without consequences and accountability, none of us share our best.