So. Following my recent post on the value of the unexpected extra, I’ve had some very interesting conversations.
Mainly with people think you should never present your dog with a surprise additional tidbit because “he’ll just learn to EXPECT extra rewards”.
The unspoken part of that statement is that if you don’t then meet expectations, there will be disappointment.
But I would go further than that. If you ONLY meet expectations, there will still be disappointment.
Take the infamous BOGOF culture. Can you even go into a store these days without being bombarded with buy-1-get-1-free offers? Or my personal favourite: buy-1-get-TWO-free. 200% extra. What. On. Earth?
As I’ve said before, I have no problem with free stuff. But the ubiquity of these “gifts”, the anonymity, bothers me. The vendor doesn’t appreciate YOU, YOUR money, YOUR buying decision. It’s the ultimate in pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap-to-anyone tactics. Consumers are led by the nose into whichever retailer has the best deal that week/day/hour… There is no incentive to return to the same store week in week out. And god forbid next time you go in to buy *whatever* it ISN’T on offer and you’re expected to pay RRP for just one product. The audacity!! The immediate failure to meet expectations.
So is this what is worrying my correspondents? That you will build an earn-1-get-1-free culture with your dog? But that’s not about breeding loyalty. That’s bribery. The store is going to have to keep INCREASING the offer to draw you back in, otherwise they are at best only meeting your expectations. Certainly not exceeding them.
And the same applies to dog training. That’s why the “extra” has to be earned, given ONLY in response to extra effort, in extra difficult circumstances, and always, always unexpected. Start doling out 2 treats every time your dog does anything and you will have to keep doling out 2 treats, or your dog is going to descend rapidly into the depths of unsatisfied-consumer hell. But present extra treats OCCASIONALLY for extra “good” behaviour, and your dog will be buying into your brand of training time and again.