Search This Blog

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Animal Training

I am listening to a wonderful book called What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage by Amy Sutherland. In it, she explores animal training techniques and how applying them to our relationships can be beneficial. One key concept that she wrote about that caught my attention was Incompatible Behavior.

This technique is to teach animals to do a behavior that is incompatible with a behavior they want to stop. For instance, the author had a problem with one of her dogs harassing her other dog when they got in the car. She opted to teach the harassing dog an incompatible behavior, rather than punish and fight with the situation. The aggressive dog now jumps in the car and immediately starts to lick her on the cheek. Licking her on the cheek is incompatible with harassing the other dog. The dog simply can't do both at one time.

Hmmm....can I possibly use this animal training technique on myself? Instead of punishing myself every time I eat a donut, maybe I could teach myself an incompatible behavior. When I am walking towards Top Pot for a donut purchase, maybe I could go for a walk around the building instead. The reason I am usually headed for the shop has nothing to do with hunger or the nutritional value of the donut, but is more likely stress, self pity or boredom. So a good, healthy stroll around the building would keep my hands away from the sweet, but also give me a physical and mental boost.

I like the idea that I don't have to actually change my behavior. I don't have to stop eating donuts. I just have to train myself to do a new behavior; one that just happens to be incompatible with what I'd like to stop. If it works for dolphins, cheetahs, tigers, parrots, baboons, camels....(you get the idea) might just work on me.

No comments: