Posted by: Linda Trunell | March 4, 2013

Where to begin?

My plan was to post every Sunday, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men (and women). Max and I did go on a 2-hour pack walk with 5 of our greyhound friends and their humans yesterday so that is my excuse.

My head is bursting with so much I have learned over the past 3+ years and I keep adding information through my continuing education, so I have a lot I want to share. I decided to start with the very basic explanation of how dogs learn.

Dogs learn much the same way we do. If something doesn’t work, we try something else. If that works, we usually do it the next time instead of trying something else. We were rewarded with success so the method has been reinforced. If your dog jumps to get your attention and you respond with looking, talking or touching (all forms of attention) you have just rewarded the jumping by giving him what he wanted. He’ll do it again when he wants your attention because it worked!

It doesn’t matter if you were saying “Don’t jump on me!” or pushing him down or (NOT recommended) stepping on his toes or pulling your knee up to his chest. You were looking, talking, touching – all forms of attention.

So, what DO you do? You remove the reward (the attention). Step back, turn your back and do not look, talk or touch until your dog has “4 on the floor” – preferably in a sit. Your dog will learn that sitting is what gets your attention if you are consistent and only reward (give attention) that behavior.

Why will your dog try to sit for attention? Because you have taught him to sit for everything – his food, before you throw the ball or offer the toy, to get his leash on or off, etc. Sitting has become his “default” position because he sits for everything good. You are consistent in asking for a sit for everything (“Nothing in Life is Free” program). A thousand “No’s” do not teach your dog anything – you must teach the behavior you want instead of what they are offering and then reward (reinforce) the desired behavior.

When he gives up jumping for attention (and he will give it up if it never is rewarded) and sits and then gets your attention, the sit is reinforced. Again, be consistent. It works! The behavior that gets rewarded, gets repeated.

In my next post I will explain the difference between negative punishment and positive punishment.

Here’s to being our dog’s best friend –
Linda


Responses

  1. took me awhile to find the little follow icon down in the corner! I am a little “special”! lol This positive training blog is a really good idea! Its like little mini “refresher” ideas for your former “students”!

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    • Thanks for following, Patty! I hope it will be helpful. 🙂

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