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Tuesday Training Byte- Counter-conditioning

Let's be frank: puppies are a LOT of work! However, the positive side of that is the owner can mold the desired behaviors from the day they bring pup home. This is most effective because the pup does not have bad behaviors already ingrained. The problem happens when a new puppy owner does not consistently establish boundaries and rewards for expected behaviors. In this situation, the pup gets worse as time goes on. Most people call me after the bad habits and behaviors are occurring. This requires "counter-conditioning" to replace old behaviors with the new. If you have an older pup or adult first decide what behaviors you cannot tolerate and work on one at a time. The basic concept is when you see the dog behaving nicely, praise the dog or "mark" the good behavior with a "Yes!" and then treat immediately. Dogs quickly learn that doing that particular behavior results in tasty treats. If I have a dog out for a walk and we meet a friend on the street, I want my dog to not bark, pull on the leash or jump up to greet the person, or continue to demand my attention. Start with fewer distractions. Take the pup out on leash for a walk and then go sit on a bench. As soon as the dog settles on it's own, I mark that behavior and give a treat. After repeating the sequence a few times, as you sit down, tell the dog to "settle" and reward that behavior. Settle is a command for a calm response like sitting or laying down patiently. It matters not what position the dog chooses. Once your dog understands the command "settle" you can increase the distractions slowly. If you see that friend and want to talk, keep it short so that your dog doesn't get impatient and begin jumping up, et cetera. Telling your dog no, stop it, sit, or down is not very helpful because you have just "rewarded" that naughty behavior by engaging with your dog. Show your dog clearly what you want and reward the good behavior. Eventually the bad behaviors stop and you have a well behaved dog.

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