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Positive, Practical Dog Training for the Real World

Your Weekly Training Tip

April 11, 2010

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A Sampling of Positive Options For Dealing With Unwanted Behavior

It doesn't matter if you're a first time dog owner, or experienced trainer, all dogs will sooner or later develop behaviors we'd rather not have to live with. If you're trying to train positively, it can be frustrating to feel that we have to choose between punishment on the one hand, or just living with the behavior on the other. Fortunately, neither is true! Most bad habits can be modified relatively easily with a variety of positive, proactive approaches. So, if your dog is doing something you don't like, and you want to change it, go for it! Here are four positive-approach options for dealing with unwanted behaviors:

Ignore it. Many ignored behaviors will go away. For example, if you completely ignore your dog when he bums for food at the table, before long he will give up and learn that it's not worth the effort. The key here is to consistently ignore him - no cheating!

Prevent it. Even an established habitual behavior, if consistently prevented, will disappear in time. To stick with our table-begging example, you could tether your dog away from the table while you are eating. Do this before you sit down to eat, not once he starts begging, and soon your dog will lose the habit of approaching the table at mealtimes. (No more drool by your feet - how nice!)

Redirect it. This is basically giving your dog something else to focus his attention on. In this case, you might have a special chew item (a tasty food-stuffed kong, smoked bone, etc) that comes out only at mealtimes. Give this item to your dog on his bed or rug whenever you are eating at the table. Pretty soon he will be anticipating his treat, and not yours!

Train for a replacement behavior. If your dog knows basic obedience exercises like Down Stay, or Wait on Your Bed, you can have him do one of these during mealtimes. This is the perfect opportunity to translate "obedience commands" into "manners" - by using them in real life situations! You will have to treat the first few mealtimes doing this as training sessions, and expect that they will be interrupted several (possibly even many) times, while you teach your dog to follow this new rule. Be persistent, and just keep thinking how proud you will be, when you can have your dog politely staying or waiting while you eat your meals in peace!

Have a great week, and until next time, 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.