Praise the DOG

Thank you for the photo

How often does your dog get into trouble?

Is he naughty a fair bit of the time?

I bet you tell him he is being bad when you catch him in the act or even after right?

Now, ask yourself how often do you praise him and tell him he is being a good dog?

When he sits and looks at you do you tell him he is a good dog?

When he lays down after he comes in from a good run, do you tell him he is a good dog?

When he lays down and chews on one of his toys or one of his bones do you praise him or treat him and tell him he is a good dog?

When you are walking him on a leash and he is pulling you like crazy and for some vague reason he stops and looks up at you, do you praise him or give him a treat or reward of some sort?

The problem with us humans is that we focus on all the things that are WRONG with our relationships, our jobs, our dogs etc.

We very rarely focus on all the GREAT things.

That’s why one of my favorite seasons of the year is Thanksgiving.

For almost a month I get to read (on Facebook) what people are thankful for instead of all the regular drama that goes on in their lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of drama too and sometimes I am a half empty person and not a half full person.

But I try to focus on all the good things my dog does.


I want you to get out a pen and a paper and write dog only the GOOD qualities of your dog.

Write down all the things that he does naturally that you like.

I don’t care if it is on command or simply that he laid down because he was exhausted from digging up your garden or your rose bushes.  Truth is at least he laid down!

You can’t punish a dog after the fact; like you can a child or a person, although most of the time punishment of a child after the fact is also less effective.

You can make a person feel guilty or go back in time and discuss what was done in the past.

But for a dog, the past is the past; he lives in the present.  Punishment after the fact is ineffective.

This is actually something I like about dogs; they don’t focus on the past or the future.

It’s as if He’s Saying… Is This Good Enough?

Dogs Need Praise

Even if they are just meeting your expectations by laying down, or sitting, or not pouncing your dinner plate.

He needs to know that you like what he is doing.

If you only interact with him when he is in trouble… he is going to get in trouble all the time.  Number one he does it so that you will at least have some kind of interaction with him, and number two he does it because he simply has no idea what you like.

He is plodding along in life trying to read your body language and going from getting in trouble for one thing to getting in trouble for another.

Instead wouldn’t it be easier to teach him what you like so that he can choose that behavior most of the time?

So You Think You are a Tough Guy, Huh?

You Can See He Loves His Dog! Thanks military

Praising a dog for what you expect him to do is beneath you right?  He should be doing it just because (even though he doesn’t speak English) it is the right thing to do!  You pictured Lassie or Rin Tin Tin when you wanted a dog right?

I have a friend who worked with K9s you know the kind of dogs that bite the bad guys when they run?  They are the reason our streets are safe from drug dealers, murderers and other law breakers, they are the TOUGH dogs and the HARD dogs!

Every tough guy he knew wanted to work with these dogs, but in order to be accepted into the program these tough men had to learn how to praise their dogs for doing the RIGHT thing, not focusing on the wrong or giving a correction.

Each new prospect was given a large stuffed dog; and he had to carry it with him, baby talk to it, and praise it before he ever got to put his hands on a living, breathing K9 with actual fur!

After all some day his life my depend on that dog and the trust and relationship they have, and if a K9 or a bomb dog makes a mistake it could be fatal for many!

Part of me wishes I could do this to prospective dog owners or people who take my obedience classes.

It is kind of ridiculously funny to picture tough muscle bound men wandering around talking to stuffed animals.

But, it is a very powerful lesson.  Praise is actually more important than focusing on the negative or bad things your dog does.

Because if he is working for your praise and doing things you like…. By default you are going to see less of the naughty or bad behaviors!!

It Really is That Simple

Now I am not one to say that your dog doesn’t need actual “dog obedience training”.  He does!  He needs obedience training and mental stimulation and exercise, but if you did nothing more than simply PRAISE HIM every single time he did something you like (you can’t just wait for him to go get you a beer 😉  it would be enough that you would see a drastic change in his behaviors.

Now add to that, the actual doggy obedience training that he needs, and that great and wonderful thing called actual doggy exercise for more on what I mean by exercise click here and I am not talking about three runs around your yard, or a block run 😉 and you will have the kind of dog you have always envied that we obedience trainers have.

Life should be more about the praise and the good things we are thankful for, than the negative things!  Change can and will happen if you focus on the good things!

Feel free to ask if you have a question you think would make a good blog post!

Now write down the things you want to change about your dog; and come up with a plan.

Maybe he is biting you in the mornings because he needs a walk or a jog?

Having the dog of your dreams requires some work, but if you do it right you and your dog will succeed.

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  1. Deborah Owen says:

    Great article! I’m trying to train my family to train the dogs. Maybe I need to praise THEM more too! 😉

    Please write an article about this topic: how to train your dog not to get up on any furniture. No couches, no beds, no chairs. Sorry, but even though I am happy to get down on the floor with my dogs, I want them to stay on the floor! Right now we have side-ways stools, books, and all sorts of things on our furniture to protect it from dirty paws, but I would like to be able to trust the dogs not to get up there instead.


    Minette Reply:

    Excellent idea!!

    Keep your eyes out in the next couple of weeks.

    AND… YESSS you need to praise and REWARD them too! I like a spontaneous pizza or a movie trip for doing the things I ask.

    Like with dog training, I don’t do it all the time and they never know when it will happen, so it keeps them doing the things I like in case I chose to jackpot them 🙂


  2. Andy Uhl says:

    I agree. Most people tend to forget that we leave our dogs home alone for long periods of time and in doing so we don’t realize what kind of affect that has on their psycosis. If you were stuck at home all day, wouldn’t you have that extra bit of energy at work? Without anyone to talk to wouldn’t you be a bit stir crazy?
    Think about this stuff before you judge your dog.


  3. Allyson says:

    I have a 18 month old smooth Fox Terrier. He has some lovely personality traits and wants to please and is a gentle dog. He is also high spirited and a little hyper. My question at this point is what is proper when we take a walk. I just had hip replacement so for the months before and until recently I was in too much pain to walk him and my husband really doesn’t adhere to obedience training, just lets Boudreaux pull and tug as much as he wants when they walk. I want to return to training Boudreaux to heel and not pull and tug when we walk. I keep a short lease on him and when he pulls, I stop. He will then sit and I praise and reward him, then begin to walk at heel again, repeating this as he pulls, which is alot! Is this walk no fun for him, or is it a long process of training that will be rewarding for us both in the future? Is it ever permissable to let him sniff around during the walk? Right now when he does this, we are back to the pulling and tugging. I am so worried about confusing him and having him unhappy. Should I play ball with him first in the yard to burn off energy until our walk?
    Any suggestions are welcome!
    Thank you!


    Minette Reply:

    I let my dogs sniff and be dogs occasionally. I release them and tell them “Go be a Dog!” and then they don’t have to heel or give me eye contact.

    But they still aren’t allowed to pull!

    If you have a wild baby 😉 I suggest playing ball and tiring him out first so the walk will be more enjoyable for both of you!

    He need exercise.. A LOT of exercise so it is something that needs to be done several times a day!


    Allyson Reply:

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply! Yes, I will play ball with him first. We have a large back yard so he can get lots of running in before we do a training. He is a bit of a wild baby!
    I am enjoying reading your blog.
    Now, any suggestions to get him to be more gentle with our cats? He knows he’s not supposed to chase them and will come back to me when I call him, then dash back after them.


    Minette Reply:

    Keep him on a leash and teach him what your expectations are. These little terriers are taught to hunt and go to ground that is his instinct so keep him on a leash and teach him to leave the cats alone!

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