Say hi to Sunny. This 3-month old Labrador Retriever is a toothy terror, but who can get upset at that face? She's going to learn her basic manners, and how to not bite so hard!
This is Ella. She is a 7-month old Great Dane/Labrador Retriever mix. We're going to have fun teaching this sweet girl her basic manners.
TIP #1: REPLACEMENT BEHAVIORS
A replacement behavior is what you teach your dog to do instead of the problem behavior. The key to making this work is when replacement behavior becomes a more efficient or more effective way for the dog to earn the functional reward than the original problem behavior(s).
For example, your dog rushes across the room, barks, and scratches the door when you reach for your keys or his leash. If you clip on the leash and open the door to let the dog out after he does all of that, you are providing him a functional reward (the fun outing) for his behavior and you will have to repaint your door much more often. Your best strategy is to start requiring him to sit before you clip the leash on. If the dog is bouncing around, simply set down the leash and patiently, silently refuse to clip the leash to the collar until he sits. Sitting becomes the replacement behavior for jumping and acting crazy because you have made going for a walk contingent upon polite behavior: your dog gets to go on a walk if, and only if, he is calm.
Making the functional reward of walks and car rides contingent upon sitting will quickly calm down the situation at your door.
- Whole Dog Journal
TIP #2: SOONER IS BETTER THAN LATER
When teaching Leave It or a similar behavior, the sooner you give the cue, the better. If your dog is already intrigued by an object, it is much harder for her to leave it alone.
We have been working with Bettie for 4 weeks. She is fear aggressive with a bite history. Today Bettie greeted me by rolling over for a belly rub - the fallout from positive reinforcement training.
TIP #1: TAKE CARE OF THE PEARLY WHITES
Has your dog suddenly changed his behavior? Growling, snapping, avoidance? Whenever behavior changes will always suspect an underlying medical condition as a possible source of that change. These often can be related to a dog's mouth.
Most dogs who have bad breath also have gingivitis - swollen and inflamed gums, usually bright red or purple, which bleed easily. Unchecked, these bacterial infections in the gums slowly destroy the ligament and bony structures that support the teeth (periodontitis). Because of the ample blood supply to the gums, infections in the mouth can also poison the dog systemically, potentially causing disease of the heart, kidneys, and/or liver.
Always consider pain or discomfort as a source of behavior change.
- excerpted from the Whole Dog Journal
TIP #2: SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION
In its most basic sense, successive approximation is a series of rewards that provide positive reinforcement for behavior changes that are successive steps towards the final desired behavior.
So for example, if you can’t quite get your dog to lie down, break the exercise into smaller steps. First mark and treat him for following the treat to the ground, then for bending an elbow, then for bending both elbows. Make sure you mark and treat liberally when you get a full down.
"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life."
- Richard Bach
TIP #1: DON'T IGNORE HIM
You can recognize what your dog is saying to you - even what he's thinking - just by learning his body language. Have you ever noticed how a puppy yawns when picked up? He's trying to calm himself down.
Have you noticed that your dog barks at seemingly random times - even if he's not a "barker"? This is a reaction to something you've not noticed. Stay alert, and you'll begin to pick up what your dog is telling you - things like…
TIP #2: CATCH IT WHEN YOU CAN
A good rule of thumb is to reward your dog whenever she naturally does something you are working on teaching her. So if you find her lying down, tell her, “Good down” and treat or pet her. That will also make your dog more likely to add lying around quietly to her list of hobbies.
This handsome devil is Lincoln, a 6-month old Redbone Coonhound. His people have done a great job with him so far, but need a little help polishing the rough edges. I'm looking forward to working with this curious and playful guy.
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, CTDI