The #1 Thing That Will Change Your Puppy/Dog Training
Thanks Warren Photographic for the Photo
So there I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine the other day about their puppy.
He is getting to that age where jumping and naughty behavior is starting to overload the good behavior he had when he was tiny.
Most people luck out and their tiny puppies are pretty good.
They follow them around inside and outside and don’t necessarily need a leash, they listen and want to cuddle; and then the “teenage” dog begins to let loose!
They start jumping up for attention.
They want to run away and explore their environment.
And, they don’t sit still long enough to cuddle anyone anymore.
Cuddling turns to nipping and biting and running and stealing.
We happened to be discussing the beginning of jumping behavior and I suggested rewarding the puppy for good behavior and sitting.
She assured me they made the puppy sit prior to giving him a treat. Want to know the difference… read on…
In her mind, she was reiterating what I was saying “They did make him sit”
In my mind, they aren’t even close to being the same thing….
Let me Explain
Making your puppy or dog sit before you feed him or give him a treat is GREAT and is a wonderful thing to do! I recommend making your dog do something for a reward, absolutely!
But, this teaches him to sit for (something) his food, a cookie you have in your hand etc.
It also teaches him to wait for the command to do the deed; which is obviously fine and also important.
Let’s face it, we want our puppies to listen to us!!!
But I Have a Different Take on Puppy/Dog Training
I want my puppies to feel like they are in control of their environment and ultimately ME.
We all like to feel like we are in control, even your dog does; and you can use this to your advantage if you are smart… without commands, simply by rewarding good behavior.
After all; ALL puppies show good behaviors some times! Even wild puppies sit and lay down when they are tired!
You see, I wait until my puppy settles down and sits on his own; then I pop out a reward (toy, game, or treat) and reward him.
In the beginning, I mostly use treats (toys and games can be over stimulating and can cause jumping and some other bad behaviors), I want a calm puppy or dog around the house.
So my puppy learns that when he sits, he will be rewarded.
Sometimes I jackpot him by giving him a bigger or better treat, and sometimes I just give him a little treat, and once he gets the idea; sometimes I just praise him.
By rewarding a behavior he is already showing (a good behavior) you infinitely increase the likelihood that you will see this behavior more often.
So instead of my puppy running over and jumping up on me; he runs over and sits in front of me.
This is a delightful behavior and one I want to continue to see, so I reward him.
I eventually put it on command and ask him to do if for me also, but I want him to CHOOSE to show this behavior without a command or a cue.
The same goes for laying down.
I don’t care if he spent the last hour attempting to be naughty and chase the cat…. When he lays down, he is a good dog so I am going to reward him for that behavior.
-Don’t get me wrong I am going to try and correct the problem of chasing the cat (exercise is probably a good fix).
I want my dogs to chill in the house, I don’t want them climbing walls, chasing cats, stealing underwear.
I want them to actively seek my attention and show me what a great down stay they have, and when they do that I will jackpot and reward and praise them.
My dogs think they are controlling me and their environment by doing the things that I like.
They think I HAVE to reward them for sitting, laying down, staying (and doing other good things); and in the beginning I am OKAY with that because it increases the behavior and the good behaviors become habit.
I don’t have to shout commands, or worry about correcting bad behavior (very often) because my dog is so busy trying to figure out what behaviors I like and showing me those behaviors.
See the Difference?
My dogs know the difference and it shows!
If you want a good pet and house dog; reward them when they do something you like.
Train them and teach them also, but reward good behaviors when you see them!!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.