February 6, 2012
When it comes to dog behavior and training, it’s common for many to lose sight of the bigger picture of how great our dogs are. In general people tend to focus on the irritating things their dog does, even though these are often the behaviors that drew them to their pooches in the first place.
As a professional dog trainer I like to remind dog training students that for every day life, keeping it simple and focusing on the positive can help guide your training, as well as enhance the relationship you have with your dog. There’s a time and place for structured action plans, but for the overall, ongoing, every day stuff I suggest a few of the following:
- Keep a more optimistic and positive outlook on your dog’s behavior. These are key elements in teaching and shaping their behavior.
- Focus in on and reward the behaviors you like and want. This results in getting more of the desired behaviors, and less of the unwanted ones. Similar to us, our dogs can never be thanked too much, for the little things.
- Visualize what you want from your dog, so you know what to teach them. This will help you look at your dog with a more positive attitude, and not the negative.
All too often dogs are ignored when they are behaving in the exact manner a person is striving for. When I hear people complain that their dog jumps on people, barks, pulls on leash or goes potty in the wrong place, I first determine if this is all the time. More often than not, their answer is “No.” I then encourage them to adopt a new attitude, paying attention to and rewarding the moments when their dog sits to greet, is quiet, walks nicely on leash, and goes to the bathroom in the right place.
In simple terms, reward what you want, using anything your dog finds motivating. This results in them offering more of the good behaviors, and owners being happier and less frustrated. And finally, I’ve learned to embrace the “annoying” behaviors – those are usually the ones we miss the most when our loved ones are no longer with us. Appreciate your dog (or any human and non-human animal) for who and what they are. After all, it is those traits that make them a unique individual.