Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dogs quickly decide that they have hit upon a way to train their owner

Dogs quickly decide that they have hit upon a way to train their owner and get more attention if the owner stops and focuses on a misbehavior. Never stop, pet, talk to or even push away the dog that bowls you over every time you enter the door. Turn your body to the side (to avoid the impact of being lunged upon) and leave the room. Give the dog no attention, not even to speak to him, until he stops jumping and pawing.

Have a dog that barks at you when you are on the phone, or when you have company? Stand up and leave the room. Close a door in the dog's face. When the dog is quiet, open the door and return. Praise his quiet good behavior.

What's a dad to do when he climbs onto his side of the bed with mom and the dog on the bed growls? Demote the dog from getting onto the bed. This dog may have to have a tough-love period of exclusion from the bedroom, or family cave. Negative reinforcements, such as yelling, hitting or pushing the dog away, are not required.

Withdraw your companionship from your dog each time he attempts to use growling to get his way. Let him learn that pushy behavior results in no attention from the human he loves. If your dog did not learn as a pup the basic principle that he must follow your lead and go where you go, it is never too late to begin a remedial, "You follow; I lead" dog-training regimen.

Modern dog-obedience classes use voice praise, gentle petting, delicious food rewards and the positive reinforcement sound of the clicker to mark correct, repeatable dog behavior. Days of choke collar jerking and owners shouting, " No!" and "Bad dog!" are gone.