Simple Solutions for Simple Behavior Problems

Changing the old and teaching the new 

If you want to change the problem behavior, think of the unwanted behaviors like bad habits. Think of a behavior to replace the bad habit. Next, teach the new behavior.                                                                                                                                                                                         Changing the old                                                                                                                                 1. Remove the reward
2. Ignore, ignore, ignore, or interrupt the unwanted behavior                                                           3. Distract your dog’s attention onto something else 

Teaching the new
1. LURE the behavior
2. A
SK for the behavior
3. W
AIT for your dog to offer the behavior                                            

                                                                                                                                                              UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS  ~ Dogs are situational learners                                                     

For example: If you teach me something in the living room, I will remember it when I am in the kitchen. If you teach your dog something in the living room, you have to teach him in the kitchen, then outside, then down the street. He starts to generalize the behavior after 4-6 different locations/situations.                                                                                                            

Start without distractions. Teach your dog a behavior in one situation without distractions. As soon as he learns the behavior in that setting, start adding distractions. Change locations and situations. Each time you change a location or situation, teach the behavior again without distractions. After your dog has learned the behavior with distractions, start to add the trigger (the thing that causes your dog to behave the way he does) at low levels, making sure to give your dog the highest reward. Like cooked meat pieces. 

Getting Started                                                                                                                                   ~ Get your dog’s attention                                                                                                                   ~ Teach your dog to say please when he/she wants something by sitting                                       ~ Come when called                                                                                                                           Your dog should come to you when visitors are at the door, when he wants to go out, and whenever you call him. This means creating a pleasant association each time you call your dog. 

TEACHING THE BASICS                                                                                                                     Rewards- Dogs are a lot like us when it comes to learning and repeating behaviors. We like to get rewarded for working, etc. In the dog world, rewards are toys and games, like fetch, find it, etc. Or play a game.                                                                                                                            

• When giving rewards, don’t get the treat/toy out or show the treat/reward until after your dog offers the behavior you asked for.                                                                                              

• Dogs (and people) learn best through play or when they are having fun, so keep your sessions short. Dogs also enjoy tricks. Teaching your dog to do a trick as an alternate behavior when the “trigger” appears is a healthy way of coping. 

1. LURING When you begin teaching your dog a new behavior, put a reward in your hand and slowly move it in the direction you want your dog to move. When you have the treat in the same hand you use to guide into position it is called, luring. The behavior happens at the same time you are moving your hand in the direction you want your dog to move. As soon as your dog begins to offer the behavior consistently, offer the treat from your other hand. Now it is a reward. 

2. ASKING- When your dog begins to understand what the behavior is, you can start asking for the behavior before they do it.

3. WAITING- When your dog is offering the behavior each time you ask, you are ready to wait for him to offer it without you asking.                                                                         

When to reward and when to phase off of rewards
As soon as you start giving the treat from your other hand, you can begin to take a little longer to get the treat, then start giving the treat from a treat bag or pocket. When you start phasing off treats and using toys, play, etc. It is called Life rewards. 

Teach the new behaviors
Practice getting your dogs attention and eye contact when there are no distractions present.    

Tip: As soon as your dog learns the behavior with no distractions, slowly add distractions until you are able to get your dog’s attention during any distraction.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Tip: Have treats in your hand or get the treat out as soon as or after the dog appears.

”Look at that”  “Touch”  “Let’s go” and “Find it” 

U Turn - Can use this before or during an Emergency
To get your dog out of a potentially bad situation (scary thing) or when they are over excited and happy when the “fun” thing appears 

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR DOG                                                                                                

We communicate with our dogs by using words, noises, expressions, body language and even our emotions. Below are signals that will help your dog process the information in a way he understands                                                                                                                                        

• Attention Signal
(kiss, kiss noise) A signal for your dog to look at you. Means stop what you are doing and look at me. Most helpful when you need to distract or re-direct him. Once he learns to look at you when you give the signal (kiss noise), you can teach him to look at you whenever he wants something and situations that causes him to react the way he does                                                                                                                                      •  Reinforcement/Reward signal Similar to the “Hot and Cold” game, the word “YES” marks the behavior you are trying to teach. For example: When you are teaching your dog to sit, say “yes” as soon as your dog’s butt touches the floor. It is a clue that he is on the right track.
Your tone should be upbeat. A clicker is a reinforcement                                                               

No reward signal- let’s your dog know he is not on the right track. It is a clue for him to try something else. You can use the word, “oops” or "nope" something similar. Remember to keep your tone neutral. When he guesses what you want, say ”yes”                                                        

Distraction signal-clap: use before dog gets into trouble to re-direct attention back to you. This is a positive signal and should cause the dog to “be happy”                                                          

Warning Signal- removing the reward = time out, Give this signal when your dog is doing something wrong. It can be a phrase like; “don’t do it” immediately give hime a time-out. Do not talk to him after you give the warning signal. The timeout should be brief so he will understand what he is getting a time-out for. You may have to repeat this a few times. Eventually, you will only have to give the warning signal.                                                                                         

PUTTING IT ALTOGETHER                                                                                                               1. The Basics                                                                                                                                   Teaching the basics. Practice the exercises                                                                                      ~ Get your dog's attention - Make the noise (kiss, kiss)

The second your dog looks at you say, “yes” and give reward

~Say please by sitting exercise                                                                                                          

This exercise teaches your dog to look to you for guidance and direction. He will look at you whenever you ask and/or before giving him what he wants. He should sit and look at you before you give him what he wants, i.e. Before you play, when he wants to go out, eat, etc.        

~ Come

Practice standing in front of your dog, ask him to sit first. Say, "Come" and give the treat. Do this several times and then move back a tiny bit. Repeat the above step whenever you can. Your dog is more likely to continue coming if you praise the second he looks at you or starts to come. As soon as he gets to you, immediately give the reward before asking for sit or anything else. Later on you can ask for other behaviors first.                                                                        

Tip: You can add distance and distraction later on. If your dog doesn’t come when you call, you may be too far away or you may need to go back to luring until he/she comes whenever you call.                                                                                                                                                       Tip: Try to position yourself close enough when you say, “come” increasing the likelihood for your dog to come.Walk backward slowly with your arm outstretched in front of you, motioning with your hand. If luring, keep the treat close to the nose. Give a treat each time.                         2. Building on the Basics                                                                                                                   Teaching Self control                                                                                                                      Dogs learn best through play (so do we) You can provide mental stimulation, prevent bad behaviors and teach good behaviors by playing games.  Hide n Seek games, Fetch, Get a Chase it toy and play with him in the house or outside.  Practice the Retrieve game email me (for the handout)                                                                                                                                             3. Beyond the Basics                                                                                                                          Leash training                                                                                                                                     ~ Practice pulling the leash while you are calling him, luring him as you walk backwards. Pull with gentle pressure in the beginning increasing the pressure

Reminders and Suggestions                                                                                                               • Don’t say “come” unless you are sure your dog will come to you.                                                 • Begin transitioning from treats to other rewards when your dog understands the behavior you want and begins to offer it consistently. 


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