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Piggy Bank Theory

Everyone wants to have a good relationship with their dog, it is every dog owners dream. From the moment you pick up your puppy from a breeder or take your rescue dog home from the shelter your dog is forming views on you as a human.

Dogs as a species, are very keen on picking up on body language and subtle hints, which is one reason why they can be trained to do so many things. Dogs will begin to learn about you and their environment, and they will begin to make either generalizations or discriminations on everything that they interact with to include you as their owner.

As their owner it is your responsibility to teach the dog how to behave and interact around humans and there may be times when you need to correct the dog for inappropriate behaviors.

Many owners are afraid to do such a thing as they do not want their best friend to form a negative association with them, however there is a way to maintain balance and get a dog who both enjoys your company and respects your rules.

“When you first get a new dog whether it be from a breeder or a shelter it is very important that you start to invest into your dog’s piggy bank, this is called making a savings.”

This method is known as the piggy bank theory and is useful for building strong bonds and positive relationships with dogs.

The concepts behind the piggy bank theory are quite simple, every interaction you make with your dog is either adding money into the piggy bank or taking money out of the piggy bank.

Interactions such as engaging with the dog and giving them food rewards will add money into the dog’s piggy bank. At times when you need to correct the dog for an inappropriate behavior you will be taking money out of the piggy bank.

When you first get a new dog whether it be from a breeder or a shelter it is very important that you start to invest into your dog’s piggy bank, this is called making a savings.

This savings should always be kept full and should continue to grow for the entire life of the dog.

Doing foundational training with the dog will be a great opportunity to build up this savings and should be reward based in the early phases. Later, in the dog human relationship, corrections can be implemented into the training regimen.

There is no set time or age to indicate when to start utilizing corrections with your dog, rather this should be based upon the dog human relationship and how much of a savings you have invested into your dog.

Whenever corrections are utilized on your dog money is being taken out of the piggy bank, there is no set ratio of one correction equals one reward and no real way to keep track of your dog’s piggy bank other than using your dog’s body language as a guide.

Every dog is different, and one dog may see one correction equal to five rewards whereas another dog would view one reward as five corrections.

Other things can play a factor such as the level of correction or reward, if a correction is something as simple as shutting a door so that the dog cannot bolt out of the house then not much money would be withdrawn from the piggy bank.

“When a dog has little to no money in the piggy bank, they are at risk of going into debt.”

This same concept goes with rewards, a dog who has a high ball drive and gets to play ball with its owner will most likely deposit a lot more money into the piggy bank.

You can gauge how full your dog’s piggy bank is based on their interaction with you, a brand new dog you got home from the shelter who is just lying in the corner and wants little to no interaction with you most likely has very little money in the piggy bank or may even have piggy bank debt.

A dog who is always greeting you and happy to see you is a dog who has a large savings in the piggy bank.

When a dog has little to no money in the piggy bank, they are at risk of going into debt. This is called learned helplessness; these dogs are at a state of mind where they have no interest in doing what their owner wants them to do for fear of punishment.

Dogs with learned helplessness tend to shut down more and do not want to engage in any activities with the owner.

This can happen to dogs who never spent enough time building up a savings with the owner or who were given extremely harsh and unfair corrections.

Having a debt in the piggy bank is not the only thing that can lead to learned helplessness, but it is a contributing factor.

Building a relationship with your dog is a something that every dog owner should strive for and wants to have, yet we must also be fair and just to our dogs and not let the rules that we set be broken.

In order to foster both a healthy relationship with our dogs and set forth the rules of the house we need to have a good understanding of how full our dog’s piggy bank is.

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