Whole Dog Journal Tips December 18, 2014

(Behavior Adjustment Training Tip #2) Replacement Behaviors

A replacement behavior is what you teach your dog to do instead of the problem behavior. The key to making this work is when replacement behavior becomes a more efficient or more effective way for the dog to earn the functional reward than the original problem behavior(s). Letís go back to the example of the dog who rushes across the room, barks, and scratches the door when you reach for your keys or his leash. If you clip on the leash and open the door to let the dog out after he does all of that, you are providing him a functional reward (the fun outing) for his behavior and you will have to repaint your door much more often. If that has happened with your dog, your best strategy is to start requiring him to sit before you clip the leash on. If the dog is bouncing around, simply set down the leash and patiently, silently refuse to clip the leash to the collar until he sits. Sitting becomes the replacement behavior for jumping and acting crazy because you have made going for a walk contingent upon polite behavior: your dog gets to go on a walk fi, and only if, he is calm. Making the functional reward of walks and car rides contingent upon sitting will quickly calm down the situation at your door.

To read more on ways to deal with fear, frustration and aggression in dogs, purchase Behavior Adjustment Training by Grisha Stewart at Whole Dog Journal.