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Tuesday Training Byte: Are you telling your dog "no"?

We often expect our dogs to understand the meaning of our words, like "no" or "stop it". Telling a dog no is problematic because the dog is just being a dog and trying to get your attention. When you say no (even very sternly) and look at your dog, guess what? You just inadvertently rewarded them and gave them your attention. And they go back to doing that thing that you don't want them to do. You need to instead show your dog what you want it to do. For example, working with a young pup that wants to keep chewing on the leashing and pulling it from me, I do not tell it no or make any eye contact. I instead apply steady, firm pressure on the lead while pivoting my body slightly away and looking away- ignoring the dog. As soon as I feel the dog let go and relax, I release the pressure and give the dog my attention, saying, "Yes! Good girl"! And give her pets or treats while smiling. Then I can go back and continue my conversation with my friend while the pup is sitting nicely by my feet. Periodically, I will look down at my dog and smile, and mark the wanted behavior with a smile, "Yes" and perhaps a treat or pat.I try to finish up my conversation with my friend while my pup is still waiting nicely. Then I praise her lavishly for being such a good girl! Before you know it, you pup will learn to choose the nice behavior because that will pay rewards. The trick is to be consistent and be sure to praise when your dog is behaving in a calm manner. If you ignore your pup for too long, she will begin engaging in that irritating attention getting behavior. Praise for good behavior makes it clear to the dog what it is you expect and their pay is your attention. Happy training! In the photo my dog Muddy is waiting nicely while I talk to my class. After a moment, I will acknowledge her good behavior with a yes, a smile, and a few words of praise.

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