It is inevitable that our dogs are going to make mistakes. Afterall, they are trying to adapt to living a life that does not always suit their instincts.
Our dogs are still learning how to live their lives in a way that meshes with our expectations for them. While it is true that dogs were domesticated between 20 to 40 thousand years ago, they are still animals. They still possess animalist instincts and drives that motivate behavior.
So often I get asked how do I give my dog a correction when they do something wrong and still remain positive. I believe it’s not so much about giving a correction as it is about how we handle any given behavior or situation.
All dog training relies on us setting our dogs up for success. So the first step I think is to help our dogs learn how to pay attention to us. I Like to use the Name game for that. Most dogs know what their name is, what they do not know is what to do when they hear it. We need to teach them to pay attention to their names, that when we say it they need to come and check in with us.
Our dogs learn behaviors through the process of repetition if we allow them to practice repeating bad behaviors they are going to get really good at them or they are going to become a habit. Your dog will only do a behavior that works for them in some way. It has to get something for them such as food, a toy, or attention; a reward of some type.
We need to be proactive in knowing what we are going to be training our dogs to do. If you know there is something you want them to do or something you don’t want them to do you need to have a plan to train them. In dog training, we talk a lot about incompatible behaviors. These are behaviors that we use during a time that our dog would normally be doing something that would be a behavior that we do not approve of, which makes it impossible for our dog to do the inappropriate behavior.
Take jumping, for instance, so many pet parents have problems with their dogs jumping.
When our dogs jump up and put their feet on us, they are trying to get our attention. There are very few things that we can do that will not reinforce this behavior as we will be giving them what they want.
*Talking = Attention you are praising them in their minds
*Touching = Attention you are petting/playing them in their minds
Pushing them off you
Grabbing their feet
Putting your knee in their chest (old school method I do not agree with)
walking into them
*Making Eye Contact = Release of Oxytocin, the Love Hormone!!!
The best thing we can do is turn our attention completely away from our dogs when they are jumping on us. This is taking away the thing they desire out of the interaction. Thus making it a Negative Punishment. When your dog puts their feet back on the floor they can have all the attention they want, but only while their feet remain on the floor. So a behavior to work on that would be more beneficial for your dog would be to train the Sit behavior.
While your dog might understand how to sit when you ask for it, do they know to sit when you walk up to them? Do they know to sit when someone enters your home? Do they know to sit when you are out walking on leash and stop to talk to someone else? What about sitting and calmly waiting for their food bowl to be put down?
If we are lucky and I hope and pray we all are, our dogs will live a long life. Would rather spend 4-6 months of their life setting good habits in place and having a well behaved dog for the next 8-15 years or have a dog that has horrible manners that you are constantly having to micro manage?
Part two will cover how to redirect your dog’s attention and how to help them mentally expend some of their pent up energy.
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