Praise the DOG
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.
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.
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?
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!!
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.
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.