Good Dog 101
Easy Lessons to Train Your Dog the Happy, Healthy Way
By Cristine Dahl
Sasquatch Books Copyright © 2011 Cristine Dahl
All rights reserved.
Sample lessons from Part Two:
JUMPING UP UPON YOUR ARRIVAL HOME
You arrive home from work with an armful of groceries. Hearing your engine purr from a block away, your pup has moved from his perch on the couch to the foyer. Tail flapping, tongue wagging, whines pouring across the threshold, you key open the front door and push through the screen.
Seemingly unable to control himself, your dog rears up and draws his front paws down your front, knocking groceries to the floor. As you bend to gather the mess, you are rewarded with sloppy kisses and a head-butt to your forehead. As you straighten you’re hit with a paw to the gut. The greeting assault continues until you reach the kitchen to deposit your torn and empty grocery bag.
Why your dog does this
Jumping on people is a highly rewarding behavior for your dog. When he jumps, he is seeking attention. Predictably, when he jumps you respond, albeit with a glare, a no”, a yell, knee to the chest, or some other deflective attempt. Although all of these responses seem to us like punishments, your dog only sees the coveted attention” he is seeking.
Think about what is reinforcing your dog at the moment he’s jumping. Assuming he doesn’t spend 8 hours a day in your absence bouncing from wall to wall in an apparent sugar-induced craze, it’s clear that your arrival is the greatest thing to happen to him all day. It’s fair to say that he’s waited an eternity for your return. Isn’t this why we adore him so?
As his punishment, remove your dog’s topmost reward. In other words, remove from him the most rewarding thing possible: your attention.
1. Upon your arrival home from work, key the front door as you usually would, open the screen, and attempt to enter the foyer.
2. The *moment* your dog takes his front feet off the ground, quickly back out of the door. Wait.
3. The *moment* all four feet hit the ground attempt your entry again. If his feet come off the floor, back out and shut the door. Only when he behaves like a gentleman, with all four feet on the floor, will you enter.
This may take four or five tries on your first attempt, but be patient. Your dog will quickly learn that his less-than-civilized behavior actually drives you away. At the same time, he’s learning that good behavior is rewarded with the greatest thing ever: you!
* * *
CHEWING ON SOFT FURNITURE
It is not unusual to find your dog, especially when he’s young, chewing on the edge of a couch, stuffed chair, or pillow. He may even find the mattress particularly appealing or sink his teeth into an ottoman. He may prefer fabric over leather, or he may be an equal opportunist choosing anything soft despite its material.
Why your dog does this
Chewing is a strong drive behavior very similar to one of your favorite rituals: perhaps having your morning cup of coffee, doing yoga, or relaxing in the evening with a glass of wine and a good book. Just as you are rewarded by these calming and repetitive activities, your dog is rewarded by the soothing nature of chewing.
Your dog has preferences for what he chews just as you have favorite foods and pastimes. He has chosen to chew on something soft because it’s to his liking.
Because chewing is a drive behavior born into every dog, it cannot be stopped without causing undesirable side effects. But, it can be modified so that you and your pup remain the best of friends and your perfect living room remains intact.
1. First, manage his environment to prevent him from exercising his urges on your furniture. To do this, either temporarily remove the piece of furniture he’s chosen to chew, erect a barrier around the particular piece, or limit his exposure to the room in which the furniture is placed.
2. During this management period, inundate him with items even more interesting than the furniture. Populate his environment with an array of legal (acceptable) chew items to satiate every chewing urge: tasty items, chewy items, hard items, squishy items, squeaky items, furry items, etc. Don’t forget to praise him with jolly talk when he settles in with one of these things.
Hint: Taking cues from his apparent taste for soft furniture, find chew items similar to the furniture he’s previously chewed on such as hard stuffed canvas toys, leather tosses, and stuffed plush toys. Contrary to the belief that this will encourage your dog to head back to the furniture, the truth is that it will instead satiate his need for this particular chewing substitute and it will actually preserve your things.
3. After a week or two of keeping him away from the furniture and allowing him to chew on his approved items, slowly allow him supervised access to the furniture again. This is your opportunity to give that essential feedback he needs to learn. If he heads for the furniture again, quickly and calmly interrupt him with an ah-ah” and present him with one of his approved chewing items
Because it is punishing for your dog to be interrupted in the middle of a chewing episode, with guidance and consistency he will quickly learn to direct himself to his chew items instead of your furniture. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Good Dog 101 by Cristine Dahl. Copyright © 2011 Cristine Dahl. Excerpted by permission of Sasquatch Books.
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