While it’s entertaining to think about for humans, very few, if any, dogs want to be naughty. I know it may appear he is misbehaving when you chase him around the house to get the santa stocking out of his mouth. But, to a dog, it’s just a fun game, and the santa hat is no different than a favorite soft toy. In reality, Buster isn’t being naughty. He’s just being a dog.
Canadian dog trainer Pat Spence shares that dogs misbehave for one of three reasons:
Lack of Understanding
We speak English. Dogs speak Dog. It’s our job to communicate what we want consistently and in a manner they understand. You may think Buster is being naughty for not sitting when you ask. But, yesterday it was fine when he sat the 10th time you said it. Dogs learn quickly by repetition. He may be thinking that after you say ‘SIT’ 10 times, that’s when you want him to sit. Praise and reward him the first time he sits fast, be consistent every time, and he’ll start sitting when you ask the first time. As Spence shares,
“The more you reinforce his good behavior, the more of it you will see.”
Boredom and Lack of Exercise and Stimulation
Similar to people, dogs need exercise along with mental stimulation. The two together tire a dog out more than either alone. Personally, it’s one of the things I love about agility.
After walking Buster before work, spend a few minutes with some positive reinforcement dog training and teach him a new trick. If he’s ready for higher distraction dog training, teach him the new trick while you are out walking him. It will put a smile on your face too, because you are building relationship with your dog. And you won’t be coming home to a torn up sofa created by a dog needing more stimulation. Adding some Through a Dog’s Ear music will also greatly help his environmental stimulation when you are gone.
Rewarded for Misbehaving
While we don’t mean to, we often reward dogs for misbehaving. That doesn’t mean we give him a treat when he performs an unwanted behavior. It means that rewards come in other forms. We might be so happy to see Buster when we get home that we praise and pet him when he is jumping on us at the front door. But, when Uncle Charlie comes to visit and he does the same, he gets scolded. That can be very confusing to a dog. Again, reward the behavior you want consistently and you’ll see more of it.
Training Tip: A dog can’t jump and sit at the same time (not even Border Collies). Ask him to sit the next time you come in, mark the behavior with a click or “yes”, and reward. You’ll see more of that behavior. (Note: If you have a very excited dog, try that first by just opening the door, leaving and immediately coming back in. If you wait until you’ve been gone 4 hours, he might already be over the threshold of excitement. Gradually build up to that.)
Were Your Dogs Nice?
I hope all of your dogs are rewarded for being nice this holiday season. If you are looking for additional rewards, our holiday discounts are still available until Dec. 26th, including iCalmDog specials.
Enjoy! Wishing you, your human and canine household a peaceful, calm holiday season!
Gina was framed for the photo above with the santa hat in her bed. Her eye has been on that Santa hat, wanting to tug with it since I brought it home. It’s the day before Christmas and now that I’ve used it for all the photo opps I could find, I finally just converted it to a tug toy for her and asked her to go to her bed with it. No naughty dogs in my home 😉
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