Obedience Training for Dogs
How Should You Do It? continued...
If You Like the Behavior, Reward It
Some training methods use punishment, like leash corrections and scolding,
to discourage dogs from doing everything except what you want them to
do. Other methods cut right to the chase and focus on teaching dogs what you
do want them to do. While both tactics can work, the latter is usually
the more effective approach, and it’s also much more enjoyable for you and your
dog. For example, you can easily use treats, games and praise to teach your dog
to sit when people approach during walks in the neighborhood. If your dog is
sitting, she won’t be dragging you toward the people, jumping up when they get
close enough, mouthing on their arms and legs, and so on. That’s pretty
efficient training-no pain or intimidation needed. Alternatively, you could
grab your dog’s leash and jerk her to the ground every time she jumps up to
greet people, and you’d most likely get the same effect in the end-no more
jumping up. But consider the possible fallout:
- Your dog might decide that people are scary since she gets hurt whenever
she tries to greet them-and she might try to drive them away by growling or
barking the next time they approach.
- Your dog might decide that YOU are scary since you hurt her whenever she
tries to greet people.
If you can teach your dog polite manners without hurting or frightening her,
why not do it? Rather than punishing her for all the things you don’t
want her to do, concentrate on teaching your dog what you do want her to
do. When your dog does something you like, convince her to do it again by
rewarding her with something she loves. You’ll get the job done without
damaging the relationship between you and your best friend.
If You Don’t Like the Behavior, Take Rewards Away
The most important part of training your dog is teaching her that it pays to
do things you like. But your dog also needs to learn that it doesn’t pay
to do things you don’t like. Fortunately, discouraging unwanted behavior
doesn’t have to involve pain or intimidation. You just need to make sure that
behavior you dislike doesn’t get rewarded. Most of the time, dog motivations
aren’t mysterious. They simply do what works! Dogs jump up on people, for
example, because people pay attention to them as a result. They can learn
not to jump up if we ignore them when they jump up instead. It can be as
simple as turning away or staring at the sky when your dog jumps up to greet or
play with you. As soon as she sits, you can give her the attention she craves.
If you stick to this plan, your dog will learn two things at once. Doing
something you like (sitting) reliably works to earn what she wants (attention),
and doing things you don’t like (jumping up) always results in the loss of what