Reinforcing good behavior to create a more mannerly household
By Renée Erdman
The most common complaints heard from clients and students revolve around basic manners. Jumping up, dashing through doors; the list of poor doggy etiquette goes on. While it would certainly be nice if dogs could decipher between positive and negative attention and instinctively get with the program, if we haven’t taken the time to teach our dogs what we would like to see more of, they can’t be expected to know. These easy training tips will help you and your dog work together to create a more mannerly household.
Don’t Feed Into the Bad Behavior
Attention is what your dog is after. Words like “Off,” “enough,” and “stop,” are still a form of attention to your dog. Whether you are giving your dog praise or scolding them, you’re giving attention to a behavior… period. Physical attention such as pushing or kneeing (please don’t do this) are the same deal. Once you withdraw attention from rude behavior, it tends to stop because dogs won’t waste energy on something that doesn’t work. Put your focus on giving attention to the polite behaviors you’d like to see more of and you will see your dog offer them more often.
Reward an Alternative Action
If your dog jumps up on you or new people, teach them something that won’t enable them to jump, like commanding them to “sit.” Every time your dog comes toward you, ask them to sit before they have the chance to jump. Then reward them with the attention that they desired in the first place by jumping up. If they’ve been practicing jumping up for a long time, up the ante and reward the “sit” with a tasty treat to make it really stick. Ask anyone greeting your dog to ask it to “sit” before your dog has a chance to jump on them, or keep your dog on lead so you can better control the situation and ask for the sit yourself before greeting strangers.
Get into a routine of asking your dog for a polite behavior before they can access things such as meals, going out or in doors, getting in and out of vehicles, putting on a leash for a walk, etc. You could ask for a “sit,” a “down,” a “stay.” After doing this for some time your dog will get into a routine and start to OFFER these polite behaviors, essentially saying “please.” Don’t forget to acknowledge and reward your dog for displaying the behavior you want to see, remembering that it’s your attention they’re after in the first place.
Remember; if we don’t take the time to teach our dogs what we would like to see more of, they can’t be expected to break bad habits that earn them the attention they so want. Give clear direction, give it consistently, keep it positive and have fun!
For more tips and tricks visit Bravo Dog!