It’s so simple it doesn’t even register for us, but it makes all the difference in her world when we do it; catch your dog and praise her when is doing something right. That’s right, as she is actually doing the action that we so appreciate, such as sitting quietly under our desk whilst we are on a Zoom call.
It's So Easy to Criticize
It is all too easy to catch her stealing your slice of toast off the coffee table, pulling on her leash, stealing your socks from the laundry basket or jumping on us when we are carrying in the groceries. But what about those times when she is not doing this; she is sitting beside the coffee table ignoring the food placed enticingly close to the edge, or when she is trotting happily beside us at ‘heel’, or waiting in her bed while we bring in the groceries?
That’s right, we ignore her, and her patience.
The Missed Opportunity
What a missed opportunity to offer our pup the praise she deserves for being totally undoglike i.e. happy and excited to see us or go for an exciting walk, instead she is behaving as her human wishes, and is waiting calmly and without complaint.
Some verbal praise or a scratch on her head will reinforce that her behavior is appreciated.
Making Sense of Random Human Rules
We usually only praise the commands we give our dog when we are in “training mode” instead of the times we can sit quietly, with our pup somewhere close, looking out for us but not seeking attention. These are really very special moments that we share, yet often ignored, however they are not nothing to our dog. It is in these moments, when she receives positive reinforcement for being quiet and still, that help her make sense of the random human rules regarding canine behavior.
To be sure, an angry reaction from you when your dog steals the toast instills some kind or learning. However, true learning clarity comes from the realization by our dog of what it is we want from her, and we imprint this in our dog’s mind with a gentle word, a belly rub or a small piece of their favorite K9Crack. This enjoyable attention helps her learn even more about our complicated human canine rules.
Rock Your Dog's World
I realize this all seems so simple but it’s not obvious to our dog, after all in a pack it would be perfectly natural to jump on your loved ones, grab any available food, mouth everybody and tear stuff up. Reinforcing your preferred behavior empowers your dog to succeed, and a glance in her direction, as she lays on her bed watching us, with one eye open, and a smile or murmured “good girl” will rock her world.