RVing and Training Your Dog? Here’s Why Timing Is Important

April 6, 2011 by Adam G. Katz · 23 Comments  
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I wrote in my first book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” (available exclusively at about the Three Keys to Successful Behavior Modification: Timing, Consistency and Motivation.  These are three concepts that are especially important to the RVer who travels with their dog, because we’re consistently putting our dogs in new and tempting situations where it’s important to be a good ambassador to the general public, as both an RVer and a dog  owner.

Understanding how these Three Keys work together is probably the single most important concept you must learn, if you wish to get inside your dog’s head and understand how the dog’s mind works. Even if your technique is not perfect, you can use the Three Keys to analyze and figure out how to fix pretty much any dog behavior problem… especially important if you travel with your dog.


The first key is Timing: Timing is your dog’s ability to associate either a positive or a negative outcome with any behavior. (Or, as the result of any behavior).  Since dogs have a very limited use of logic and reason, they are unable to associate cause and effect beyond what happens in the immediate present. That is, whatever happens as a result of their behavior (good or bad) must happen pretty much instantly.

For example: If your dog smells the pan fried steak you’re cooking and jumps up and puts his front paws on the hot stove: your dog’s association with the hot stove will be: Stove = hot. (A negative association, that happens instantly).

Yet: If your dog gets into a 4 lb bag of peanuts and eats them all in a matter of minutes… and in an hour he has painful stomach cramps and diarrhea; he’ll still have no idea that the peanuts were the cause. Because for him: If the result or reaction of his behavior doesn’t happen immediately, then his limited logic and reason (or in some cases: his limited language comprehension) prevents him from ever learning that 4 lbs of peanuts will cause gastrointestinal distress.

So, it’s our responsibility to attach an immediate negative association to eating anything that isn’t in his food bowl. Or for any unwanted behavior, for that matter.

Frequently, RVers who travel with their dogs will ask about behaviors such as ”counter surfing” … where the dog jumps up on the kitchen counter to snag a piece of food. Owners wonder how to correct such a behavior, especially if the dog steals a piece of food and then runs to the other side of the RV (or under a table)? That’s where the bridging technique comes in. As soon as s/he does the behavior — even if you’re on the other side of the RV– you need to firmly say, “No, no, no” as you run to her/him and administer the correction. By saying “No,” right at the moment she does it, you’re creating a virtual snap shot in her mind, and by continuing to say “no, no, no” as you run to her, you’re forcing her to remember what she’s being corrected for. Studies I’ve read suggest you have at least 7 to 9 seconds after the behavior, as long as you’re using that bridging technique. So, yes; You should be correcting her after she’s jumped back down off the counter, as long as you’ve said, “No!”

The same goes for timing your praise… which I’ll go into more detail in a later article for

- Adam G. Katz
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23 Responses to “RVing and Training Your Dog? Here’s Why Timing Is Important”

  1. Sean Michael on April 6th, 2011 5:10 pm

    Great article! We don’t even own a dog, yet I enjoy reading your posts because we may own one someday.

    Plus, I now understand why my wife keeps saying “No, no, no” every time I toss my dirty laundry on the floor.

  2. Mary on April 6th, 2011 5:22 pm

    One quick tip. We take the stove knobs off and only put them back on when we need to use the stove. My youngest dog during one of her first camping trips with us jumped up and turned the gas on. So now we just always take them off. I have a little tupperware box behind the stove and we drop them in their so they are easy to get to.

  3. JUDY HOWARD on April 6th, 2011 5:37 pm


  4. Adam G. Katz on April 6th, 2011 5:38 pm

    @Sean: Thank you, kind sir. Our women can’t train a couple of wild hogs like us. At least that’s what they let us think. ;)

    @Mary: Great tip! I’ll pass that one, along!

  5. sonny on April 6th, 2011 5:50 pm

    We travel with our BULLIE the biggest problem we find is where there are dog walks people think they don’t have to clean up after there pets campground or rest stop we put in 29,123 miles last summer and i did not leave poop anywhere

  6. DebbieT in Alabama on April 6th, 2011 5:53 pm

    Excellent and timely article…. we have a new rescue dog added to our “pack”! I had no idea about that 7-9 second “bridge” time in corrections, I mistakenly thought if it wasn’t immediate, it wasn’t gonna happen. Thanks for the info!!

  7. GaryM on April 7th, 2011 9:21 am

    Excellent tips for sure. Another that has worked very well for us is never feed our animals from the table or from the counter. We take our Chow/Blue Heeler cross and our old cat on every trip. Neither have ever eaten anything but what was in their bowl inside the RV. The cat doesn’t go out but the dog does. We just don’t feed people food to either.
    They don’t beg for anything we eat which is awesome in itself. The cat will get on the chairs under the table but has never even gotten on the table or the counters. The dog will get on the couch to look out the window but has never gotten up to the counter or the table. She is the same outside and we have tied her to the table during meals sometimes when there isn’t a tree or post close by.
    A lot of times we teach our pets the bad behavior in the name of love when truly we are doing them a great dis-service by encouraging them to like our food. :)

  8. Bill on April 9th, 2011 6:52 pm

    Does anyone else see the irony in Dog Training advice coming from someone named Katz???

  9. Raynoch on May 15th, 2011 6:36 am

    That’s really thkninig out of the box. Thanks!

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