Behavioral Kindness to Dogs: 5 Tips

  1. Be patient and count to ten. In spite of the training you’ve done, and contrary to the expectations you might have, your dog is only human. If she picks up your shoe and plays “keep away” (by the way, a game that can easily be made more appropriate), if the meat for dinner is eaten from the counter, or even if she growls when you brush out a knot in her coat, take a second to think about it. These situations can be avoided or alternative behaviors can be trained. Impatience, however, is usually not productive and might frighten her.
  1. Help your dog to be successful. When training or working with your dog, it helps to be aware of his mood and energy level. If you’re teaching a particularly challenging cue, work on your own timing and use high value food or toys as positive reinforcement. If you sense that he’s distracted or tired, ask him for something familiar like a “sit”, reward, and end the session. It’s also important to set him up for success at home. Have you put some irresistible chicken bones in the trash? Take the trash out before leaving your dog alone. Keep your counters clean, and put remote controls and fancy shoes out of reach.
  1. Take your dog for a leash walk rather than just putting her out in the yard. The proverbial back yard is a great boon for dog parents, but dogs need to be walked as well. Single dogs and those who simply don’t play by running will not exercise themselves. More important, going for a walk with you has many benefits. It is quality time when you can interact directly, whether training or just pointing birds out to one another. And sniffing, watching, and listening to the world around them are deeply enriching activities for dogs – a well-deserved break from hanging around the house (or yard) all day.
  1. Don’t assume that what you hear on television or read on the internet is the best method for training your dog – whispering or not. There is misinformation, usually punishment-based, about dog behavior which can lead – being blunt here – to your dog biting you, being chronically fearful, and even being euthanized because of his escalating behavior problems. But there is great information out there, as well. Sit down with a cup of tea and read ethical sites such as the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, Dogmantics, Welfare in Dog Training and the recently formed Pet Professional Guild, among many others.
  1. If your dog’s behavior has changed, take him to the veterinarian. There is no way to know for certain whether your dog has a headache, intestinal discomfort or joint pain, but unusual or new behavior can signal that your dog doesn’t feel well. Irritability, housetraining “accidents”, even excessive licking can result from illness. A good physical exam, along with laboratory tests if they’re needed, is a necessary first step in solving the problem behavior.



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One Response to Behavioral Kindness to Dogs: 5 Tips

  1. Pingback: Behavioral Kindness to Dogs: 5 Tips | Education canine, comportement canin |

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