Improve Your Dog’s Behavior in 3 Steps
When teaching a dog one or several new behaviors, it can be tricky to gauge if a dog’s behavior has permanently changed. Dog behavior can fluctuate depending on the situation and your dog’s health (hey, he might not feel well that day). Before assuming your dog’s behavior has changed, it’s best to follow these steps to ensure your dog’s behavior improves. These steps will also help you identify where your dog’s behavior fell apart.
Step 1: Dog Readily Offers Learned Behavior
You’ll know when a dog has learned a new behavior when he readily offers it during dog training sessions. As an example, dogs learn how to “sit” pretty quickly, especially when they receive a treat for it. They will usually offer a “sit” behavior because it makes cheese appear. When teaching a new behavior, such as “down,” a dog should offer or can be easily lured into this behavior before you continue to step 2.
Step 2: Dog Responds to Cue
Once a dog offers or can be easily lured into a new behavior, it’s time to give it a “cue.” Putting a behavior on cue is extremely important because that’s how to ask a dog to perform a behavior (stimulus control).
If you would like your dog to “sit and stay” around guests, then these behaviors need a name, so your dog will know what to do when you say it around guests. Once a cue (sit) is paired with a behavior (sitting down), your dog should respond to the cue within a few seconds. Continue to practice until your dog responds within a second after hearing the cue. Rewarding generously will certainly speed up the process.
RELATED: Learn From Dog Training Mistakes
Step 3: Dog Performs Around Distractions
Most dogs can “sit,” “down,” “come” and “stay” at home, but can they perform these behaviors in the front yard or park? This is the most difficult part of improving a dog’s behavior. In fact, this is where most pet owners become frustrated and give up. As a general rule, when training your dog, 90% of teaching a new behavior is practiced around distractions. It’s great when dogs “sit” instantly on cue, but it’s even better when dogs can “sit” instantly when guests come over.
Moving from one step to the next certainly shows improvement, so keep practicing!