By Karen A. Soukiasian
Even as smart as they may be, your dog cannot read your rulebook. Your dog depends on you to make learning the rules as simple and clear as possible.
Rule No. 1 is for you. As the alpha member of your pack, you make the rules; as well as fairly and calmly enforce them.
One of the most important elements of training your dog is to make all corrections clear and simple. You want to make the first correction as effective as possible, so your dog will succeed in immediately understanding what you expect.
That way you do not have to repeat it, over, and over, and over. When you have to repeat a correction a dozen times, no question your dog sees your lips moving, but all they hear is “yak, yak, yak.”
There are three elements to a successful, effective positive reinforcement, punishment-free correction. They are interruption, direction and praise.
All corrections and praise should be done immediately. That is the only way your dog can make the association they have pleased you. Remember, dogs live in the moment.
The following is an example of successfully correcting your dog, if they are chewing an inappropriate object:
> INTERRUPTION: Interrupt the inappropriate behavior. Firmly and calmly say, “NO! GIVE!”
> DIRECTION: Immediately, replace the object with an appropriate chew item. As you are directing your dog to the appropriate item, tell them, “Here is your ____.” Immediately follow that with
> PRAISE: Praise gets your dog’s attention. Be generous with it. You always have it with you, and it doesn’t cost a cent. Through praise, your dog will make the association they have pleased you, and are now chewing the appropriate item. Tell them in an enthused, loving tone of voice, ‘Good girl. Good dog!”
It never hurts to throw in a good under the chin or belly rub! It reinforces how pleased you are with their up-to-the-minute behavior.
Bottom line: Make your corrections immediately and firmly. Make your direction simple and clear. Make your praise loving and sincere. Try it, it really works!
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