Dogmanship Minute | Request Vs Demand

Do you know what the difference is between a request and a demand? When someone asks you to do something, you don’t know. Someone could ask you with the politest tone of voice if you want to hang out or get a coffee tonight, but this could be a demand in disguise. Likewise, something that you hear as a demand might have been a simple request, but years of conditioning have made you hear every request as a demand.

So how do we know?

We know by how the person reacts when we say “no”.

The difference between a request and a demand is how I treat you when you say ‘no’.

If I call you and say “hey, do you wanna grab a coffee tonight?” and you tell me “sorry, I can’t,” if my response is to say “fine!” and hang up, what was heard might have sounded like an innocent request but that wasn’t what I had in my head. The “fine!” and hanging up is likely to elicit a sympathetic response from you and you might call me back and say “dude, what’s up?” and I could say “I’VE BEEN HAVING A REALLY BAD WEEK AND I COULD REALLY USE SOME COMPANY AND YOU’RE ALWAYS SO BUSY SINCE YOU START DATING THIS NEW PERSON AND…”

Now, if you were to change your answer to a yes, who’s to say what your motivation is. Was it because you really wanted to earlier? Likely not. It’s likely because you feel guilty because of my unhealthy expression of needs.

Let’s take another look at that same exchange.

“Hey, do you wanna grab a coffee tonight?”

“Sorry, I can’t”

“No worries buddy, lemme know when you’re free!”

Pretty big difference there. Let’s take it a step further and see how I could express my needs in a healthy way when you say no.

“Hey, do you wanna grab a coffee tonight?”

“Sorry, I can’t”

“No worries bud. Listen, I’ve been having a hard time lately and I really have a need for some company and a distraction. Would you be able to make some time for me in the next few days?”

Even if you didn’t like this person, your answer would likely be yes. This is a healthy expression of a need.

Now, how does this pertain to dog training? Well, simply put, are you requesting or demanding things from your dog? How do you treat your dog when he says no?

Now many people think that just because you aren’t COMMANDING obedience that it becomes optional but nothing can be further from the truth. Most humans on the planet would agree that we’d rather be asked to do something rather than instructed or told we MUST do something as if some how taking away our free choice. In my experience, when you approach dog training in the same way, you end up getting more compliance, more cooperation and a dog who is more interested in working WITH you rather than IN SPITE of you. Which brings me to my next question for you.

WHY is your dog doing what you want?

For me, it matters why people do things for me. I don’t see anybody act out of obligation or fear. If you wish to do something for me, it’s with your whole heart or nothing. I don’t want my dog doing things because he fears consequence for NOT doing nor do I want him doing something with the expectation that he’s going to get something in return. Both of these are problems we have in the human world were some people act out of either a desire for a reward or out of fear.

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Mitchell Rosenburg, author of Non-Violent Communication, calls this compassionate giving and it’s something that is very much a part of our nature. I call it cooperative interaction and it’s natural for humans and dogs who are connected to a functional social group to give compassionately to each other with minimal extrinsic motivation.

So how do we get our dog to do these things? How do we get our dog to give cooperatively to us when we ask? Well, that’s what great obedience is all about. Great obedience training, regardless of HOW it’s taught will unlock our dogs (and our) ability to give compassionately to each other again as well as unlock cooperative interaction.

Most of it is about being the type of person your dog would hang around with IF HE HAD THE OPTION TO LEAVE. We take for granted that our dogs can’t “break up with us” and leave, but I’m confident that there’s a lot of dogs out there who would be leaving the old “I’m leaving you” note on the kitchen table if they understood that was an option.

Are you being the type of person that your dog would hang around with if he had the option to leave?

If you are interested in seeing this type of training in action, consider scheduling your free consultation in the Kingston area or contacting me to talk about hosting a seminar or clinic in your area.

As a quick side note, this video is a great example of what I’m talking about. This video features Kelsey the doodle doing something called Active Temptation Resistance. I’m calling her, making kissy noises, clapping my hands and baby talking her to try to call her off the heel and her human, Reina is doing her best to keep her WITH her. Note how at no time did Reina have to correct or punish her. This has a lot to do with the foundation we’ve laid out during training. Click here to watch Kelsey’s FIRST SESSION, which was NOWHERE near this. 

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