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Tuesday Training Byte: Are you Rewarding Bad Behavior?

This is a hallmark of the many calls I get with people frustrated that their dog is "still" doing _______ (fill in the blank). It may seem strange, but dogs are experts in body language, but cannot distinguish a verbal scolding or correction from praise. The first rule is to not engage. This means keep your mouth shut, do not touch or even look at your dog. Your dog wants attention and interaction from you. If you do any of the above, even harshly, you have just rewarded that bad behavior. And when a dog gets anything it perceives as a reward, that behavior may not just continue, but actually increase. The only thing that happens is that you got to release some of your frustration. This is counter-productive. If your dog jumps on you as you come in the door from work, do not engage your dog! Look up and away, and continue straight ahead. Again- no touching, talking, or looking at your dog! After a few tries the dog generally will stop. Once your dog is calm and maybe sitting without any directive by you, that is the time to engage with your dog with praise, smiles and pets. Don't be this guy.

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