Tip of the Month

5/31/2006 Rewarding Alternative Behaviors

If you’re attempting through dog training to eliminate an undesirable behavior, remember to reward your dog with treats, praise, petting, etc. for engaging in any other behavior that is appropriate. For example, if you’re attempting to eliminate jumping up on your guests, reward your dog for sitting around guests, which is both incompatible with jumping and is a more desirable greeting. Other examples of alternative behaviors to reward are chewing on a bone rather than the table leg or being quiet rather than barking.

Your animal trainer will tell you that this concept is extremely important for all dogs, but that it is especially crucial for puppies under five months of age, which is when their personalities and habits are being formed. Using positive reinforcement to teach new behaviors, as well as stop undesirable habits, works best when owners use it consistently.

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