I moved into a new house about 14 days ago. The funny thing about this house is that, when you walk into the master bathroom, the light switch is on the left side, opposite of where the sink is.
Well, practically every other house I’ve ever lived in has always had the light switch on the right side–or at least on the same side as the sink.
And I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if every single time I’ve walked into that bathroom, my hand doesn’t instinctively reach to the right to turn the light switch on. Even after 14 days, my prior conditioning has been so engrained that when I consciously try to remember which side the light switch is on… my hand still shoot out to the right, instead of the left.
This is the exact same type of conditioning we aim for when training our dogs. And this is why I advise that, even after your dog understands a command, you continue to say, come and then give a tug on the line… up to a year after
the initial training session.
I want your dog to be so conditioned to respond to commands that it becomes an automatic response–just like turning to the right instead of the left, to turn on the bathroom light.
As I’ve already touched on this concept a few years ago in my book, which you can read more about at Dog Problems. I just had to share this experience with you, because it was so comical to the extent to which we animals (yes, we’re animals too!) can develop conditioned responses.