Recently a famous "self help" author posted this question on his facebook page:
"Any dog trainers out there? I'm all for positive-reinforcement dog training, but most experts seem to dodge a major question: What can you do when pups do something "bad" (e.g. chewing furniture, jumping up on chairs, etc.), besides ignoring it? Re-directing is one way to get them to temporarily stop, but it wouldn't seem to teach them that something isn't allowed. Anyone with experience out there? Thanks!"
The amount of pro aversive comments really disturbed me. The abusive things that people are doing to their dogs will probably haunt me until the end of my days. One woman wrote in that she puts pennies in a can and throws it at her dog when he does something wrong. So sad. Some others heavily promoted Cesar Milan, saying that they learned so much about dog behavior from watching his show. My reply to that is how can you learn dog behavior from someone who has no idea what he's doing? He doesn't even know dog behavior. Sigh...
Anyways, my comments were removed by the author (which was really weird because they were respectful) but one of the things I was wondering was which trainers he's talking to because none of the PR trainers I know would ever avoid that question.
Just because I train my dogs with positive reinforcement does not mean I am permissive. I do not ignore "bad" behavior. Everything is addressed immediately. If you've read my post "Clever Alternatives to using Aversive Punishment" you'll probably already know what I'm about to say so I apologize for repeating myself.
Set the dog up for success. Don't set them up to fail.
We are the humans with the big brain. Prevent the dog from being able to do the "bad" thing. If dogs are allowed to repeat things they will get better and better at the thing. It's better to use management to prevent the "bad" behavior from ever happening in the first place. Some examples of management would be: Crate train them so they learn to love their crate and don't allow them to roam loose when you're not home. Put your stuff away so they can't chew it and give them "legal" items to chew. Get a trash can with a secure lid so they can't get in there. Use a baby gate to prevent them from having access to certain areas of the home. Put a leash on the dog so they are unable to dash out the door. Take them for frequent potty breaks while they are learning so they don't have the opportunity to make a mistake. Put them on a food schedule so you will know about when they will have to go potty.
Train a positive interrupter and interrupt them when they are doing something they shouldn't be and then redirect them onto a behavior that's more appropriate. If you are consistent with management and redirection the training will stick! If they are really determined to do the "bad" thing then there's something else going on. For example, the dog might not have gotten his morning walk/run or fetch session and he's bored.
TRAIN AN ALTERNATE BEHAVIOR.
If you don't want them on the couch, teach them that going to their bed is the best place on earth to be. If you don't want them jumping up teach them to sit.
TRAIN THE DOG.
Train the dog to do what you want them to do. They have no idea what you want if you don't teach them. You have to be proactive about it. They don't come pre-programmed knowing stuff. Focus on what the dog should be doing instead of what the dog should not be doing.
NOTE: Dogs don't generalize as well as we do. What you taught in the kitchen they may not know in the living room or outside (where distractions are a huge thing) It's important to train new behaviors in different locations so they understand that the word "sit" means "sit" wherever they are. If the dog is not doing a behavior that they "know" don't assume that they are being stubborn. Go back to the basics and try again as if you never taught it. In highly distracting environments keep your expectations low and your rate of reinforcement high. Don't ever be stingy with rewards.
EXERCISE AND MENTAL STIMULATION.
If 95% of the dogs with "behavioral problems" got exercised properly, their brain and their body, they wouldn't have behavioral problems. A twenty minute leash walk around the block is not enough exercise for most dogs. Dogs also need their brains exercised so teaching them tricks or giving them puzzle toys will help immensely. Don't feed the dog in a food bowl. Give them their meal twice a day in a puzzle toy that takes them some time to figure out. After 20 minutes with a puzzle toy they will be way more tired than that 20 minute walk around the block. Or better yet, use those meals for training. A lot of my dog's meals are fed as training sessions.
You have to be consistent when training your dog. Decide what the rules will be and stick with them. Dogs are easily confused and behavior that is reinforced will likely be repeated. So one day it's okay for them to jump up and give kisses then another day when their paws are muddy it's not, the dog will be very confused and they won't understand why you're upset.
This one is huge. It's so huge I'm making a separate paragraph for it. If you teach your dog impulse control they will learn that the whole world is not their oyster. That's an important thing for a dog. I still spend a lot of time working on this. There are a lot of fun games you can play with your dog just check out youtube for ideas. It's so easy and the lightbulb comes on immediately. Teaching impulse control goes a long way and is probably more important than anything else. I'm planning on doing a whole post about this important topic soon.
Sometimes a timeout can be good for both the dog and the human. As long as it's done in a positive manner and not an intimidating one. I usually give this advice in particular to people who have puppies who are biting excessively.
I've been doing this sort of training from early on with my dogs and they are perfect house dogs. They've never had the opportunity to get into trouble in the home and they are allowed access to most of our place when we are gone. Neither of my dogs have chewed anything of mine because I keep my stuff put away. If it's valuable it's not going to be left out. They've never gotten into the trash, either. It's just never occurred to them to do so because they've never had access to it. We don't have any behavioral problems at home because they are addressed immediately and I've been proactive about management and training. My dogs have never door dashed, either because door manners was one of the first things I worked on, especially with Phoenix. The dogs are allowed on the furniture but they will get down as soon as you ask. They sleep in their own beds at night.
We have rules and they follow them.
I've always felt that dog training wasn't that hard. A little bit of skill and you can go a long ways, especially if you are consistent. Most people don't need their dogs to know the advanced tricks and that's okay. The dogs just have to know what the rules are and they need your time and attention. You don't have to throw a can of pennies at your dog, you don't need to hit them. Any sort of aversive punishment will have fall out and it's not necessary to get results. A lot of people have recall problems because sometimes they do terrible things to their dogs. The dogs don't want to be around their person or come back because their person is not fun. I want to have the best relationship possible with my dogs. I never want them to be scared of me. I'm sure you do, too. So don't use aversive punishment. Dogs only do "dog stuff" they don't know that it's right or wrong. They are being reinforced for it so they will keep doing it unless they are taught to do something else. Any failure on our dogs part is OUR fault, not there's.
If you need training help, please email me! I would be happy to offer some advice or support. I can also point you in the direction of finding a qualified PR trainer or behaviorist to help you more. If I don't know the answer to your question it's very likely that I know someone who does.
I think boredom is really the root of most of the behavioral problems in this country. The majority of dog owners don't do much with their dogs. They claim if they have a yard for the dog to be in, it is enough. Try sending a human into the yard along for an hour and see how fun it is. In Europe the dogs are so much better behaved, but they are walked a lot, they get to go places and they have to constantly be learning and paying attention. Dogs here are simply bored a lot of the time we find.ReplyDelete
Our thought is that the majority of dogs in the US are simply bored and it results in bad behavior and humans that have no understanding of why. Putting a dog out in the yard alone is not exercise but most folks here seem to think it is. In Europe dogs go everywhere, they are walked a lot, they have to be thinking all the time, and they are much better behaved. People need to work with and challenge their dogs and then behavior will improve on its own in many areas. Proper training is also key, but giving dogs something to do physically and mentally is so important. Heck, most human kids that are in trouble with the law commit crimes why? Because they are bored. They also had no one to teach them something productive to do.ReplyDelete
I would definitely agree with you, Emma! The dogs are bored and they have no idea how to behave because no one bothered to show them. Our dogs were raised like European dogs. They go everywhere they are allowed to go. Even Phoenix went everywhere and when we got her she was very skittish. She learned about the world as we went places and she figured out that things are not as scary as she thought. We are pretty sure that her previous people never took her anywhere. :(Delete
This was a great post!! I can't tell you how often I get into arguments with people in my facebook group!!! People hitting their dogs in the nose with magazines, or their own hands etc....I am in shock at how people treat their dogs!!!!!ReplyDelete
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
Thank you! I get so frustrated by those people and it makes me really sad when I see people do abusive things.Delete
You have some great advice! And that video is great!ReplyDelete
Hi hi hi! Ojo here!ReplyDelete
I have a secret. Our person is called Dog Trainer. She doesn't usually say this online because it seems to cause problems and arguments and fights, but this is something that she does. She is certified and spent many years apprenticing and learning before she ever thought she was ready to tell people how to work with their dogs.
Our person likes your post very much. She gives it two thumbs up! Cobi and I give it all eight paws up!
Here is the thing. I have had two timeouts in my life. Ever. Because, right from the moment I came home with my people, they were busy teaching me what I was supposed to be doing.I got every kibble of my breakfast and dinner for making the choices they liked and learning the manners I needed to live with them.
Am I still naughty? You bet I am! (And there are now lids on all of the garbage cans because I am so very clever and I figured out that if I pick a kleenex out of the garbage they will trade me for something yummy so that I don't learn to guard things... But now there are no kleenexes for me any more! Sigh.)
Here is what our person says to her clients all the time... She often gets asked questions like, "How do I stop my dog from jumping on people?" "How do I get my dog to stop bugging us at the dinner table?" "How do I get my dog to stop pulling on the leash?"
And she always says, "Person, I understand, but you are asking the wrong question."
She tells them first to figure out what they DO want their dog to be doing. And then the question should be, "How do I teach my dog to sit when a person is coming over to say 'hi'?" "How do I teach my dog to lie on his mat while we're eating dinner?" "How do I teach my dog to walk calmly at my side with a loose leash, even when we're passing other dogs?"
Those are good questions, and she will help you answer them!
I am sorry for the rant. My person feels very strongly about this. We see so many dogs being jerked and flattened and shoved around, when it is so clear that they have no idea what they are supposed to be doing. It's not nice and it's not fair and it's not training.
And that is my rant. Keep posting!
- Ojo the Rescue Mutt
Oh that's awesome that your mom is a trainer! While I'm not an official trainer dog training is a huge hobby and I love learning about it as much as possible. We even used to rent Tawzer dvds so I could watch seminars and I've done my own behavior mod with Phoenix.Delete
I love your comment so much! How you were raised is exactly how I raised my dogs! They are still naughty sometimes, too but it's just doggie stuff. They are dogs and sometimes they are silly! I think your mom hit the nail on the head. It's important to figure out what you do want the dog to do and then train for that. I am also really sad about all the dogs I see being jerked around. It's so depressing.
Pee Ess We are not saying that time outs are bad, but they belong exactly where you put them - at the bottom once the people have tried everything else on the list! And they sure can work for those dogs that have problems with impulse control!ReplyDelete
Also, while our person gets flack for giving us food out and about, I must say that we are much better behaved than most other dogs! We come when we are called (most of the time), and we walk politely past people and other dogs, and we leave dead things when we are asked...
Unfortunately our person never gives freebees. Sigh. We have way more rules than most other dogs, and we always have to earn our treats! Every. Single. Piece. We also have to earn our toys most of the time, and also our freedom to run and play. But, on the other hand, this training is much fun!! And we almost always know what we're supposed to be doing - this is way less stress! Plus - training is FUN!!!
No worries! I knew what you meant. Most of the time it's the human that needs the timeout anyways! :DDelete
I carry food with me all the time, too and I've gotten some weird looks and comments but like you said it's good to reward stuff as it happens. The girls have to earn every piece of food, too so you're not alone!
This is all such great advice. We do a lot of the same things around here, and Nala is also just an utter pleasure to live with. I've never had to hurl a can of pennies at her (seriously, wth?!) to accomplish that, even though she *did* come to me with a proclivity for sticking her giant nose in trash cans! I just put the trash out of her reach, and reinforced behavior I liked, like settling down on her mat and chilling out.ReplyDelete
It sounds like the original commenter wasn't really looking for an answer to their question--just for a bunch of people that would agree with their choice/inclination to punish their dog. It upsets me. I've unfollowed a lot of groups where this kind of "discussion" happens.
Yeah, I totally agree with you. I don't think he was looking for advice, either and it's sort of depressing, really.Delete
That's so awesome about how you're raising Nala and yeah I was shocked about the hurling of the penny can, too. :( I just don't know how people justify that. It's not hard to keep them from getting into stuff.
One area I've had trouble with has been stopping bad behaviors, so I really learned a lot from that video you shared about positive interrupters, which I was not familiar with.ReplyDelete
I'm always working hard at training my hubby to let go of some of the old aversive techniques, but haven't always been sure what to tell him to do instead. This gives us something to work on.
Also, I completely believe in management. I get so frustrated with people (family) that don't understand why their dog won't stop chewing the couch or other objects. It just seems so obvious to me that just taking them away from those things is what you should do! We've always had covered trash cans so that has never been an issue around here either.
I'm so glad that you found the Kikopup video helpful! I would definitely recommend checking more of her videos out she's an amazing trainer! Here's the link to her website and the list to her videos by topic: http://dogmantics.com/free-videos/Delete
I sometimes have trouble with my husband, too so I can totally relate. He doesn't use any physical corrections or anything like that but sometimes he forgets that they are sensitive and that raising his voice is punishing to them. He will sometimes get frustrated with Phoenix because she likes to bark at him. He made it a game for her and sometimes she likes to keep going longer than what he'd like. So I'm constantly working on him and her and we've come up with a cue for "that's enough". All he has to do is say "go to bed" and that usually enough to get her to quiet down. It's a really good example of "you get what you pay for"! My husband reinforced her for barking and so the behavior is being repeated, he trained her to be annoying! So now we have to work on untraining that.
This is a wonderful post! Impulse control is huge, and one of the things that's helped Ruby the most. I never did complete the Relaxation Protocol formally, but we still do all sorts of spin-offs from it.ReplyDelete
Thank you! I totally agree! Impulse Control is one of the most important things anyone could ever teach. We haven't actually done the Relaxation Protocol but I have done a lot of "settle" work and also the "It's yer choice" or "doggie zen" stuff. Right now we are working on Susan Garrett's "Wow" game. It's kind of funny because we've been doing that since before it had a name but I like what she named it so I will probably continue to call it that.Delete
Excellent tips. I can't stand to hear people mistreating their dogs! Dogs are like babies, they don't have the cognitive ability to distinguish right from wrong. They can be trained to do or not do certain things, but that is our job to teach them in a way they can understand and do consistently. Bad behaviors will occasionally happen even w/ the best trained dog, but punishing them won't help. Just re-enforce the training. Great point about dogs needing enough exercise to avoid boredom and bad behaviors.ReplyDelete
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
Thank you and excellent reminder about how they don't have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. They really don't and they don't know why we are upset when they do something "bad". I keep putting "bad" in parentheses because dogs don't know that what they did is bad. It's just a dog thing to them.Delete
Good house manners are key! Both in mine and other people's houses. Personally, training is important because it makes dogs easy to live with and so they're happy. Mr. N will actively seek out training sessions when he's bored.ReplyDelete
I definitely agree with you! I wish I had more dog friends so I could have them practice good behavior in someone else's house, too! That's awesome Mr. N will ask to be trained when he's bored. Zoe will usually do that, too. Phoenix will just grab one of her toys and play by herself. :DDelete
Thanks for sharing those great tips! They act as a valuable reminder. I especially appreciate you pointing out that dogs, unlike humans, won't generalize. Sometimes that's easy to forget!ReplyDelete
Thank you! I'm glad you liked the post! I always celebrate when they do manage to generalize!Delete
Such a great post, Lauren! Agree with you 100%! Not sure if you know but recently, I completed a 10-week training series on Bark & Swagger called Tuesdays with Justin, Justin being Justin Silver, the dog trainer. his book talks about a lot of the same things you mentioned above. Our rescue, Jasper, came with lots of issues from a previous owner who surrendered him. Luckily, he was still a puppy, maybe 8 mos old, when we adopted him, so we've been able to guide him through overcoming much of the challenges we faced early on. He's still got a ways to go, but we're moving in the right direction. Jasper helped me learn just how important consistency is, clarity, patience, love and yes, treats! :-). I don't think it's wrong to tell my dog no, but redirection is usually the most effective policy and when we used to come home to Jasper having gotten into trouble, we knew it was definitely out fault. Thanks so much for this. I am going to subscribe and look forward to reading more of your posts, Lauren.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment and I'm really glad you liked my post! I've heard of Justin Silver before, that's awesome! Jasper sounds a lot like Phoenix! Her previous people didn't do any training or socialization. She was in a very sad state when we adopted her.Delete
So well said! The people who think PR trainers have these dogs running rampant with bad behaviors drive me nuts.ReplyDelete
Thank you! Me too!Delete
This is a great post, and I totally get your frustration. I think "timeouts" can be helpful and recently realized that they fall in the "negative punishment" quadrant. I'm not sure how "purely positive purists" feel, but I figure, two negatives make a postive, right? Negative punishment is removing something to make a behavior stop. I agree that training an incompatible behavior is best, but sometimes the bad behavior is too self-rewarding. Like humping for example. Leo started mounting dogs at the dog park too much for our liking. So we started leaving the park at the first sign of it. Taking away playtime to make the mounting stop. Now he hardly does it anymore, and when he starts to get that look in his eye, I give him a verbal warning, and he stops!ReplyDelete
Yeah, I am definitely not "purely" positive and I'm not "purely" force free, either but I try my best to avoid aversive punishment. We are following the LIMA (Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive) way of thinking now because I do stuff to them that they don't like (nail trims, baths) and I don't feel comfortable calling myself "force free".Delete
I think removing Leo from the dog park as soon as he humps is a great idea and that's generally what I recommend for people who have that issue, especially since other owners are generally upset by humping and you never know what they will do to your dog. As long as the removal is done in a way that is not intimidating or aversive to the dog, I think it's great.
Early training was key for us (and I'm not gonna lie, we paid for and went to puppy and basic obedience classes for several weeks on end, because we didn't know what the heck we were doing). Anyway, we (dogs and people) learned so much. It's an ongoing thing (positive training), though, as you know. Dogs need to know who's in charge, but I agree, punishment and dominance tactics are not the answer.ReplyDelete
This is such a great post! The whole thing about people leaving things out and then blaming the dogs for chewing it up is so true. So many people have this problem, and I'm just like...uhh..have you put things up? LolReplyDelete
Puts pennies in a can and throws...? OH MY MOUSES!!! Your ideas are way, WAY better. Yup, doggies have got to learn the rules but it's important to teach them the right way.ReplyDelete
A great post!!!! With our "normal" outgoing Labs, one of the hardest things to train using positive methods is greeting without jumping. I've worked on it lots and lots with little success (a great frustration to me - and I've read everything written on this subject, I think). The one good thing about Shyla being shy is that it's been very easy to teach her a polite greeting method!ReplyDelete
There are very many people who are still quite old fashioned when it comes to dog training. Pennies in a can? Lol. I think that everyone has their own way to train there dog, as each dog is different. This is a great post, we do everything you had listed above.ReplyDelete
My ex-boyfriend was not consistent with training, and due to that there are a couple of behavioral issues such as whining and slight separation anxiety that I have been training out of Bain. Dogo's are very sensitive, but stubborn as hell. Everyday is a new day, and sometimes they will pretend they "forgot" their training. :)