Posts Tagged ‘Training’

Show Rover What To Do

I was walking down the street the other day and noticed a woman standing on the corner with her dog.  Her dog was sniffing the ground, and every so often the woman would pull on the leash and say “No!”  Fascinated I stopped and continued watching this woman and her dog as discreetly as I could.  I was trying to figure out why she was pulling on the leash.  What did she want her dog to do?  I had no idea, and it looked like the dog didn’t either.  If I couldn’t figure out what this woman wanted, me with my primate brain and big frontal lobes, this dog had no chance!

What was clear to me is that this woman wanted her dog to do something specific.  She was trying to get him to do it by stopping him from doing something else (as far as I could tell).  As convoluted as this sounds, it is often our first instinct when trying to change behavior.   Clients of mine want their dog to stop jumping, or stop chewing, or stop pulling; however, people often forget that your dog has to do something.  Your dog is often just guessing what is the right thing to do, and unfortunately their instincts are usually contrary to what we would like.  Wouldn’t it be easier if you just told him what it was you would like him to do instead?

As intuitive as dogs are, your dog can’t read your mind to find out what you want.  You have to show him, and-I hate to break it to you-saying “NO!” when he jumps on you really does not give him a clue!  However, if you decide that you want your dog to sit to greet you instead of jumping, you now have a very clear training plan: If your dog jumps up, you ignore him.  If he keeps his rump on the ground, he gets cookies/love/toys.  Very quickly your dog will understand jumping equals no attention, but sitting equals good things!  You showed your dog what behavior you do want instead of getting upset when he guessed wrong.  It really is just that simple!

If you are frustrated because your dog “isn’t listening” to you, ask yourself this: have I actually shown him what I want him to do?

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