Improving your dog's behavior ... without really trying.
During the Covid shut-downs, we regularly posted ideas to do with your dog at home. This article is about using every-day tasks to get calm behavior without spending any extra time in “formal” training sessions.
Train better behavior in 3 easy steps:
- Get it: Start by getting your dog to offer the behavior. We’ll offer suggestions for starting each behavior.
- Mark it: The moment—the instant—your dog has performed the behavior, mark it with “yes” or “good” in a neutral tone of voice. Don’t sound overly excited – just calmly mark the moment that is about to receive reinforcement.
- Reward/Reinforce it: After you mark the behavior, reinforce it:
- With a food treat … or
- With something else reinforcing
- Example: Mark your dog when s/he sits by the door and open the door to the yard.
Environmental Training: Environmental training is teaching your dog to offer behaviors based on your every-day interaction. Here are two examples of easy-to-achieve behaviors.
Sit for Dinner:
- Get it: Hold your dog’s dish close to your body about waist high and stand still. Wait for your dog to sit.
- Mark it: The instant your dog’s rear hits the floor, mark with “yes” or “good” then
- Reinforce it: Put your dog’s dish on the floor and let him eat in peace.
Watch for: If your dog jumps up while you’re holding the dish, utter a calm “Unh” and turn away. Turn back and repeat as above. Otherwise ignore undesirable behavior and be ready to mark the one you want.
Sit at the Door:
- Get it: Wait by the door with your dog and look at him/her with a neutral expression. Just wait.
- Mark it: The moment your dog sits, say “yes” or “good.”
- Reinforce it: Then open the door and let your dog out
Watch for: If your dog jumps up on the door, calmly say “unh” and move away a foot or two. Then return to the door and repeat above.
This was originally published as “All Dogs Alchemy”: Ideas to help get through the Covid quarantine.