When we train our dogs we tend to not get specific about what behaviors we are giving attention to. More importantly, we are not even fully aware of where we are giving attention. By getting specific and becoming aware we can make training our dogs that much easier. It’s not hard to train a dog especially if we know HOW to use our attention to our fullest advantage.
Your attention is the most rewarding thing that your pup will get from you. Using your attention to ‘Accentuate The Positive’ by rewarding and reinforcing the behaviors you want, while ignoring the behaviors you don’t want, will change the way you and your dog interact with each other. It will also change the way you train any dog forever.
Your attention is anything that involves:
- Talking (Yes, yelling IS attention!)
- Eye Contact (The “Bad Dog” stare counts!)
- Touching (Pushing them down when they jump on you is attention too!)
If you choose to acknowledge the positive things your dog does (sitting nicely or laying quietly while chewing a bone), rather than ignoring them when they are quiet; you will have a dog who wants to do the things you acknowledge and reward, rather than trying to get your attention by doing the things you hate. Everyone knows the “bad kid” who is always acting out. Acting out gets the attention – this behavior works.
The truth is we are taught to acknowledge and scold (give attention to) the things we don’t want our dogs to do, rather than the reverse. When you flip the switch and ONLY acknowledge the behaviors you want, your dog will give you more of them to get your attention. Try it! Eliminate “NO” from your vocabulary for a week or two and start saying “YES” to the behaviors you want. See what happens.
For example, jumping is such a HUGE problem for many people. When I have a dog jump on me I completely ignore it until they have all four paws on the floor, or sit. I don’t even acknowledge the jumping. I use the key above and wait for the dog to do something else first. I then teach/train them that staying off of me is more rewarding than jumping on me is.
Below is the most important key to your success!
DON’T SKIP IT!
If your dog finds a behavior reinforcing by simply engaging in it, ignoring won’t work because your dog is being rewarded or reinforced by that behavior, not your attention. In this case you need to Distract/Interrupt, then Redirect your pup to engage in a behavior you want. For example your pup is biting and tugging your socks while you ignore them but regardless of how much you ignore they won’t stop. Grab a squeaky toy to Distract/Interrupt, then Redirect by giving them their toy to chew on.
Going back to the jumping example above, this applies too. If the dog jumping on me is pulling my shirt or grabbing my coat. I physically remove myself (Interrupt the behavior) by leaving the room and closing a door behind me.
I keep doing this until the dog realizes that they will get NO attention until they are calm and have all four paws on the floor. (Redirecting the behavior). Dogs this excited about a behavior I actually wait until they are ignoring me too before I give any acknowledgement.
Jumping is so much for fun for dogs that if your timing is off a little bit you can accidentally reward the behavior. This will cause the behavior to happen over and over.
The recipe to your success!
Reward what you want, Ignore what you don’t.
When ignoring isn’t working Distract/Interrupt and Redirect.
It’s that simple and it works!
Try it out and see the results you get. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!