Steps for Dealing with Dog Behavior Problems Part 1

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This is not about specific dog behavior problems, but more about a general system for dealing with the issue. Rather than dealing with individual behavioral problems, it would seem more helpful to learn a actual system for dealing with these problems.

It has been my experience nearly everyone knows how to punish a dog for the dog’s inappropriate behavior. Of course, they usually do it much too late and more severe than necessary, but usually punishment is the first method used when faced with dog behavior problems we may not like.

A better way is to teach a dog behaviors which are incompatible with, or will displace the dog behavior problems we may not like. This is particularly true when these behaviors are taught to a pup or very young dog. Very often a puppy never does learn behaviors which would be less than pleasing to us.

For starters, teaching a dog (or ideally a pup), the basic obedience behaviors of sit, stay, come, heel and quit will, very often, displace the dog behavior problems. In a sense, the dog learns generalized obedience which will carry over into many other areas not actually taught to the dog.

But, since we live in a less than ideal world much of the time, and we are not always starting off with house training a puppy, the question becomes how to deal with a dog behavior problems that we may not like.

With the exception of Rascal, our Lab, the other six dogs came into our life when they were from four or five months old to about year and a half of age. One of the first be.

haviors which was taught to them was the QUIT command. This is a generalized command which means stop what you are doing. The QUIT command and how I teach it may serve as an example of one part of system.

As a matter of procedure, I always utilize the environment I happen to be in to teach any behavior. For example, we have two doors; a house door and a porch door leading to the back yard. In the dog’s excitement, they would jump up on the door while waiting for me to open it. The command QUIT is given. As soon as they quit jumping up, at first this took a moment or two, they were reinforced with the Sound Leash and the opening of the door. At the second door, if necessary, the same thing is repeated. On our daily walks, we also go through a gate from the yard. Again, the same procedure is repeated. This was how quitting what they were doing, on the command of QUIT, was started. Since then, I use the command QUIT where ever I want any of the dog behavior problems stopped.

The point of the above is both the Sound Leash and opening of the door acted to reinforce the sitting quietly behavior.

Barking Dog Behavior Problems

Indiscriminate barking was dealt with in a similar manner. On the command QUIT, the barking stopped momentarily. That’s all that was needed. After a couple seconds delay, they were reinforced with the Sound Leash. It would appear to many people the barking behavior was being reinforced. Not true. Remember the 4/10th of a second requirement. What was being reinforced was the silence or what ever the dogs were doing at that instant. Overall, the barking was reduced and the response to the command QUIT, when given as the dogs barked, became better and better.

The point of the examples above is the recognition of the system for changing the dog behavior problems. Most people do seem to have a grasp on punishing the behavior. The part which is missing is to reinforce the behavior you do like, or as in the examples above, reinforce obedience to your commands. This is telling your dog what you do like, which is doubling the effectiveness of any punishment which may be used. The dog is learning what to do in addition to learning what not to do. This is the part which is missing in most attempts to change the dog behavior problems.

 

source: Steps for Dealing with Dog Behavior Problems Part 1