This blog first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on August 6, 2012.
Bring your dog's nose to manners class but leave your no's at home!
(The Nose Knows!)
by Skye Anderson, MS
My first university teaching job was in Thailand, the land of ‘Sanuk.’ Sanuk means ‘fun.’ My teaching philosophy was to make my classes fun: if they were fun, the students would come: if they came, they would learn.
My philosophy is the same for dog training classes: make it fun for both members of the team - the dog and the human.
The most common word to come out of the mouths of many dog-frustrated folks is “No!” Some dogs even think their name is No!
So, I ask my clients to leave their no’s at home when they come to a dog manners class. We use primarily positive reinforcement (we do not purposely use positive punishment) which means we reward the dog when he is doing something right (and usually ignore him when he is doing something ‘wrong’).
Instead of telling your dog, ‘No,’ when he is doing something ‘wrong,’ redirect him and give him something appropriate to do so you can praise him or give him a treat.
If the new puppy is chewing on your teenager’s tennis shoe, interrupt the deed by excitedly calling him away and giving him a stuffed Kong instead (stuffed with treats and kibble as a reward). Then put the shoe away and have a talk with your teen about puppy-proofing.
Dogs do what works for them. So, they will tend to repeat the things that get them treats. Dogs will be good if given the right environment.
Leaving your No’s at home can be hard for us humans. It is often difficult to think of another way to do something but much better for both of you in the long run. So, if it helps to put up a sign or crinkle up your ‘nose’ to remember to leave your no’s at home, I won’t tell! But your dog will thank you for it!