The Concept of Discipline
I find it interesting that people expect their dogs to listen and respond to them 100% of the time. Most people who hire me to help them train their dogs want their dogs to stop instinctive behavior and offer good manners ( as they define them) the moment they command them to do so. The paradox is that most people have difficulty following commands they give to themselves.
How many times have you said you plan to go to bed earlier, get up earlier, drink more water, start to exercise, eat healthier, watch less tv, read more, quit drinking, stop smoking, etc… I think you get it. Why do you expect your dog to respond quickly and correctly all the time when you have difficulty in your own follow through?
The key to helping our dogs learn and engage a new behavior is to consistently practice the behavior and follow it with a positive consequence. The pleasant experience reinforces the desired behavior and increases the likelihood the dog will offer the same behavior again in the future.
The art of discipline requires consistency.
When you tell yourself to do something, there are many factors which will influence whether or not you follow through. Just as you strive to set your dog(s) up for success, set up your environment to guarantee your success. Your self discipline is determined by your ability to make the right decision, moving you either closer to your goal or further away. The first step in strengthening self-discipline is to identify what habit you need to add or delete to achieve your desired result. Next, you must determine why this is important to you. When you are deeply connected to the results, it is more likely that you will fall in love with the process to get you there.
You would never try to teach your dog multiple new behaviors in one training session. You build on the foundation of acquired behaviors. Additionally, you don’t expect your dog to learn a new behavior in a highly distracting environment. Your ability to succeed in mastering your self discipline and creating a new habit will be determined on where you focus and how you remove distractions that can pull you off course. Focus on only one thing. Reverse engineer the behavior chain to identify the one thing you can engage in to make it more probable for you to make the right decision to act on the new habit.
For example, if you desire to improve your physical fitness and want to run a marathon, what is the one thing that you can guarantee will make it possible for you to get out the door and start to run? Is it putting on your running gear or getting up earlier or going to bed earlier? Identify one behavior to focus on that will make it easier for you to follow through with going for a run.
Be mindful of the fact you expect your dog to listen to you and hold yourself to the same standard.
- Select one habit to add or remove from your daily routine
- Set your intentions to make the right decisions
- Manage your environment to set you up for success
- Identify your reinforcers
- Fall in love with the results
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