Why don’t more people train their dog? Surely everyone wants a well-mannered canine companion, and new dog owner’s intentions are usually good. Most dog owners make a genuine effort to train their dogs, only to give up because they find that training is more work or harder than they expected. Learning to communicate with your dog can be an awe-inspiring experience of mutual empowerment.
Did you know that by receiving rewards for desired behaviors your dog learns how to choose to do the right thing, rather than just how to avoid doing the wrong thing?
Take jumping on people. Lots of dogs jump up. Jumping up is one of their most annoying behaviors. Why do dogs jump up? To greet people, because face to face greetings are natural dog behavior, and because it’s exceptionally rewarding to them. And sometimes even yelling is attention, and they are rewarded often enough that it’s always worth a try.
Remember: you want to reward the behaviors you want, and ignore or prevent the behaviors you don’t want. Instead of physically punishing your Jumping Jack, ignore him by not making eye contact, by not speaking to him, and by turning your back on him until he does something good like sits, and then you reward with treats and attention. If you do this consistently, Jack will learn to run up to you and sit as hard as he can for attention. Dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarding to them.
Whether you’ve never trained a dog or are just switching over to positive training, Pat Miller’s book, The Power of Positive Dog Training will show that training your four-legged friend with positive training tools is easy, fun and effective. Available now at Whole Dog Journal.