After a very interesting discussion during the puppy seminar I thought a lot about our perception of the motivation and drive. If you think about it many behaviours get a label of ‘problem behaviour’ because they are not in line with our expectations. Is a dog chasing a rabbit having a behavioural problem? Or is it just expressing natural behaviour that we do not accept?
We get high drive dogs expecting them to excel in sports, work; anything we will chuck at them. And then we are surprised/upset when they are very persistent in pursuing a goal that is not in line with our expectations. How unfair is that? It is a bit like getting a hunting breed dog and being upset it develops stronger hunting motivation than the motivation for the work we have in mind. I’m not saying we cannot influence those things but first we need to understand and accept the dog. Motivation is not a straightforward black and white concept. It is not as simple as finding out which type of cheese the dog likes, motivation will vary based on many factors some we are often not even aware of.
And now a little mind challenge 🙂
Think of last time you did something you were not supposed to do. Eating whole pizza while officially on a diet, watching a movie instead of finishing work, having that one beer too many on a week night, staying on the couch instead of going to the gym. And now think about it again, is any of those things that you did a problem in itself? Or does it become ‘problem behaviour’ because at some point we decided we ‘want’ to do something else. That we have motivation to loose weight, be proactive at work, exercise, eat healthy and so on. But do we really? If you decide to eat a whole pizza I think at that moment you have a stronger motivation to eat the freaking pizza than to follow a diet. And after the pizza is done and which means that need has been satisfied that’s when the remorse comes, and other needs become important.
We are continuously experiencing conflicts between different needs, and if we are so intelligent as a species why do we so often fail to make the ‘wise’ choices? Because we have drives to, and because very often we are not even aware of our own motivation.
So next time when your dog ‘misbehaves’ don’t see it as a personal insult, don’t get frustrated but think in terms of motivation and definitely think about the last time you ‘misbehaved’ yourself.