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Positive, Practical Dog Training for the Real World


Your Weekly Training Tip

January 31, 2010

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Pay attention to where your attention goes!

Dogs find most attention reinforcing, and will work to get it. Unfortunately, most of us tend to pay more attention to our dogs when they annoy us, than when they're "being good". Here's a training experiment to try: spend this week ignoring behaviors you don't like, and paying active attention to behaviors you do like!

  • What's "active attention"? This means doing more than simply noticing the behaviors you want your dog to repeat. You can smile, laugh, warmly praise your dog, give him a pat, offer him a treat - whatever is handy for you to do at the moment.
  • What about things you can't ignore? If the behavior is destructive, or potentially harmful, by all means interrupt it, but do it unemotionally and with detachment, as much as possible.
  • Not sure which behaviors to give active attention to? Do this for anything you'd like to see again from your dog! For instance, is your puppy chewing his toy, instead of the couch? Don't take that for granted - tell him what a good boy he is! Did your boisterous Boxer give your youngster a kiss as he walked by, instead of jumping up and knocking him over? Awesome - tell him so! Was that your high-energy herding dog lying snuggled up with your kitty?? What a lovely thing - give them both a quiet stroke and some nice warm praise!

At the end of the week, you should see an increase in behaviors you like from your dog. Most dogs, realizing that you are paying attention, will try to offer behaviors that you seem to enjoy and reward. And you might find that your dog is "being good" more often than you realized!

Have fun with this, enjoy your dogs, and until next week, Happy Training!


Julie Cantrell BSc, CPDT-KA, CDBC
Canine Behavior Services



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Weekly Training Tips are Copyright 2010, Julie Cantrell BSc, CPDT-KA, CDBC, Canine Behavior Services. All rights reserved.