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Learn How to Reward Good Dog Behaviors and Discourage Unwanted Behaviors

Families should reward good behavior and redirect or ignore unwanted behavior. By setting clear boundaries, such as not allowing the dog on the sofa, which your whole family should reinforce, you will avoid confusing your dog.

Consistency is key

Dog training is as much about training you, the pet parent, as it is teaching your pooch. Pet parents should ensure all boundaries are reinforced with lots of rewards. Also, “capture” good behaviors, such as lying quietly at your feet, coming when called, sitting when greeting people. Positive reinforcement has been scientifically proven to be effective with quick results. Treats are a wonderful way to reward your dog for good behavior.

A great approach is to praise the dog when he does something right. For example, if you ask him to "Stay," you should praise your dog while he is remaining in that position.

The Basics

By using humane, positive, voluntary and reward-based training methods you and your dog will create a relationship of mutual respect and trust. Introduce and practice cues on a daily basis, such as “sit”, “down”, “come” and walking politely on a loose leash.

Help with bad habits

Here are some tips on how to manage and solve the most common issues. Remember, dogs don’t find these behaviors rude, these are normal dog behaviors, however we should teach them polite behaviors instead.

  • Barking at visitors
    To help with welcoming visitors, and keeping your pet from barking, redirect your dog to a “sit-stay” or a "down-stay" position before answering the door. Provide the visitor with plenty of yummy treats to have ready to give to your dog while he is sitting politely, to associate a visitor with polite behavior as well as yummy treats! You can reward quiet behavior also, once the dog is quiet, even for a nanosecond, reward! Dog learns that treats are earned for quiet behavior.

  • Jumping on guests
    Cue your dog to sit before and while greeting someone. Have plenty of yummy treats ready and reward for polite behavior. Most dogs can jump up while they are sitting. Guests should ignore the dog until the dog has all four feet on the floor or is sitting politely. If dog jumps up, guests should turn their backs and leave.

  • Licking
    If your dog starts licking, get up and walk away when it happens or redirect to something else. Giving them a toy or treat when they stop licking you works wonders!

  • Sitting on furniture
    There is nothing wrong with snuggling with your pet on the sofa or your favorite chair. It’s vital that all family members reinforce boundaries, so decide early on what the boundary will be and stick with it.

  • Pushing through doors
    A dog bolting out the door can be a dangerous habit as they may dash into danger. Always put your dog’s leash on before you go to the door. Train your pup to sit and stay while you open the door. Invite them to follow you or walk outside when both of you are ready to do so!

  • Chewing
    Provide plenty of chew approved and safe toys for your puppy or dog. If you see your dog beginning to chew your favorite shoes, redirect to an approved chew item and reward them for finding a positive solution! Chewing is a normal behavior, especially with puppies, lots of approved chew toys and 30 minutes of exercise per day will certainly help, as this provides physical and mental stimulation.

  • Me! me! me!
    If your dog is offering “attention seeking” behaviors, ignore it. Turn your back and find something else to do until your dog offers a different behavior.

  • Digging up the yard
    Dogs love getting their paws in the dirt to bury food or make a cool place to lie in the summer. If it’s a problem, try set aside a “digging allowed” area. If possible, designate a small area and encourage them to dig there. If this is not possible, be sure to supervise your dog's outings in the yard and distract them from digging with approved toys and activities. Taking your dog for a 30 minute walk will help burn off some of the energy they are expending on digging in the yard.

  • Aggression
    Aggression is not common in most dogs. If your dog lunges, snaps or bites another dog or person, you should seek help from a veterinary behaviorist. Only veterinarians, which are board certified in animal behaviors, should address aggression issues.

  • Fear not
    A socialized and trained dog is unlikely to be fearful in most situations. Even so, any dog can become afraid in new or strange situations. If your dog is so fearful that they will not take a treat or become aggressive, you should consult a veterinary behaviorist.

  • Meeting other dogs
    Dog should never meet on leash, as your dog’s body language may be hindered which causes confusion between both dogs. Instead, if you have a puppy, find a supervised puppy playtime session to attend, or take your dog to a dog park where they can be off leash and meet other polite dogs. If you run into someone on the sidewalk with their dog, you should both ask your dogs to sit before politely introducing yourself to the stranger. Reward your dog for politely sitting during the introduction.

  • Stealing off countertops
    Remove anything and everything off the countertop, and your dog will figure out there is nothing worth “counter surfing.” This method always works! Or crate your dog when unable to supervise them.