Tuesday Training Tip: Be Sure to Catch Your Dog Doing a GREAT Job

Mama Sally:

So often when I’m training dogs, I watch owners collapse into frustration on a daily basis.  Granted, there are many, many reasons that dogs…and especially puppies…can frustrate an owner, even on a good day!  And honestly, some of those things are going to continue until a puppy grows up and stops being a puppy, or until a dog figures out a new way of doing things.

Sometimes, what can happen, is that an owner finds themselves going from correction to correction to correction, and honestly, that can get frustrating if that’s every day life with your dog.  Here’s a secret:  To a dog, negative attention is still attention!!  Sure, they’d rather have you petting them and sweet talking to them, but if you won’t do those things, they learn very effective ways to get your attention…even if that’s being naughty!  And let’s face it:  Being naughty really works well for many dogs!

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To break out of that naughty behavior = negative attention cycle, be sneaky and catch your dog doing a great job with everyday life!  Wait until you see him producing calm, relaxed behavior, and make sure you praise him for that behavior. To really be effective with this approach, you really have to have a positive mindset!  You have to be willing to see your dog through a lens of being a good dog, rather than a naughty one!  It’s a conscious thinking of watching your dog, and capturing the great moment just as it happens!

I’ve never yet found an owner who was frustrated with a dog who was producing great behavior!  The problem is that in many or maybe even in most homes, owners ignore great behavior, and I promise you….that’s a critical error!!  Dogs repeat behavior that gets them what they want!  If you want your dog to produce great behavior….be sure that’s what you’re consistently praising!!  And, make sure you’re giving your dog a really terrific reward that he wants!  Pull out all the stops and make sure that when your dog does what you want, you leave no question in his mind that you really, really liked what he did, and he will continue to do that to be sure he has figured it out!  That’s a win in anyone’s book!

Rugby James:

When I was a lil pupper, I hasta say that sumtimes I did get into stuff on account of that’s what maked my family drop what they was doing and come running to me.  I figured out that when I went shopping for sumping to get into, I could steal sumping naughty off of a table, and sumtimes the Uprights would even chase me wif it what was a really fun game!!

The Mama sayed that she didn’t train udder naughty doggers all day to come home and scold her own!  So, she started teaching me tricks when I looked bored and like I needed sumping to do.  Sumtimes, the Daddy or the Lindsay would play fetch wif me, but the Mama mostly played finking games wif me.

Rugby Shoulder Ride (2)
I learned to jump up on the Mama’s shoulders for a ride!

She was really sneaky wif me too!  When we was just hanging around at home, she would be walking around the house, and sumtimes I would follow her to see what she was doing.  Anytime she stopped walking, if I calmly sat down, she pulled out a kibble and gived it to me wif sum good lubs and petting!  And you know what?  I learned to stop jumping up on her!  And it only took about seven to ten days! And you know, sumtimes, the Mama wasn’t paying attention to me, but I still did the good behavior anyhow.  Only, sumtimes I hadda get up and move to a new spot and sigh real loud to let her know I was doing sumping polite and good!  Uprights get busy wif stuff and they just forget to pay attention.

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The Mama watches me to catch me when I do sumping good…then she clicks and gives me a treat!

Your lil doggers wantsa make you happy!  They really does!  And they tries really hard to figure out what you want from them.  A big secret to success wif doggers is to catch them doing the stuff you want and making sure…consistently…that you give them a really great reward, and I can tell you…on account of I know about these fings….your lil dogger will do good stuff a whole lot more often!!

 

 

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Comments

    • Sally says

      Thanks, Nicole! Sometimes the simple things are what yield the best results in training our pets!! I wish I could claim that first photo! It's a stock photo, but I absolutely loved it too!!

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    • Sally says

      Rugby has mastered a big sigh.....it's his way of reminding me that he's working all the time, and I need to always pay attention to him so that he continues to do what I like!

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  1. says

    Great tips and hooray for rewarding positive behavior! Henry and I train every day with everyday behaviors but we still have work to do. Thanks for the info!

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    • Sally says

      Thanks so much Rochelle!! I'm a rewards based trainer ALL the way!! Dogs are too smart to let those trainable moments slip by us!! The everyday behaviors are so important and if you're working on them daily, you're headed in the right direction!! Well done!!

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    • Sally says

      Thanks for reading and for your kind comment! Good for you for rewarding good behavior!! High fives all around!! 😀

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  2. says

    Thanks for sharing these tips. Positive reinforcement works so well! The mom has tried to train us...but you know us cats...we don't like to be told what to do. 😉

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    • Sally says

      You know....what I find most difficult in working with kitties is that they often just do not like to take food from a human's hand! My daughter's two kitties were hand raised by me, and learned at a very early age to take treats from me. I taught both of them to sit on command within seconds of working with them! They were so proud of themselves, and my daughter was just shocked! If you kitties learn to let your mom hand you food, maybe you'll be able to learn some fun words for rewards!! 😀

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      • says

        This is so true! I have three cats. Two are so food driven that they'll take anything from me. One looks away or at the floor if I hand him a treat. I've got him to the point where he will now smell it in my hand before he gets it. Very slow going with him.

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        • Sally says

          I just think that cats by nature are very suspicious! They are very independent creatures, so they don't necessarily see the need to do things for us that we might like. But when I can get a kitty to take treats from my hand, I can usually get them to do a trick or two by luring them into the behavior with the trick. If you have kitties who will take food from your hand, try getting a book on trick training for dogs, and you might be surprised about what you can get them to do! And with your shy guy, I would try using little slivers of tuna or fresh chicken, and work when he's hungry and you might be surprised at what he will be motivated to do!! Good luck!!:D

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    • Sally says

      Thanks for reading and for your kind comments! I wish more than anything, I had some video of Rugby jumping up on my shoulders! He loved to ride up there, and often perched there anytime I sat down! Good for you for using positive reinforcement with your kitties!! So happy that you're getting great results from that method!! 😀

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  3. says

    great tips! frustration dose happen and I love hoe you said to just take a break and catch your dog doing something good. positive reinforcement is the best for of any training!

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    • Sally says

      I'm a HUGE fan of short and sweet with training. When we can leave our dogs wanting more....they are much more enthusiastic about our approach next time! It just means a mindset of looking for good, and expecting it!! 😀

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    • Sally says

      I use a clicker fairly often with Rugby, because I just think it makes him more responsive, but I have a verbal marker (yesssss) that I use as well. That's the marker that I use with most of my clients, because clickers can really be difficult to nail down, and most of my clients really hate using them. They don't mind a verbal marker, and it can still get the same thing accomplished. Thanks so much for your kind comments! <3

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  4. says

    First of all, the pictures are adorable! I'm laughing because the same goes for human kids. It's easy to always focus on the negative stuff, but so important to praise and reward the good behavior. Kids and dogs are like in many ways and attention is attention as you said. Unfortunately, I don't think my daughter would respond to treats and clicker training, but it is worked well for Ruby.

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    • Sally says

      Thanks so much for reading and for your comments and observations!! Great parents always catch your point when I'm working with their dogs!! I honestly think your daughter WOULD respond to a clicker and training....hahahahaha....but you have to have the RIGHT reward that would motivate her to produce the behavior you want all the time!! That can get expensive....trips to Disney, clothes, CDs....shoes....hahahahaha!!!!

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  5. says

    Training can get frustrating for humans and pups. Rewarding good behaviour seems to be the most effective way to get Kilo the Pug on the right track. I do still have to correct him mid- stream sometimes but it is all about timing and communication and him feeling confident.

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    • Sally says

      Pugs can be sooo independent and stubborn when it comes to working!! For dogs like that, I really try to keep my training sessions short and sweet! I either use a 5 minute rule, or even a 5 repetition rule and stop. I think some of the frustration can happen when both dogs and owners are just "over" that training session. Short and sweet can really make a good difference!! Nothing wrong with correcting him....It's not either/or, but both/and! You want to reward the good stuff, correct the naughty stuff, and hopefully....your dog will want to do the good stuff if the reward makes it worth his while! I'm delighted to know that your focus is on timing, communication and confidence! Wonderful goals for any training!! 😀

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    • Sally says

      Thanks so much Jeanne! I'm definitely a gentle trainer!! Many dogs are really sensitive and need a soft hand and sweet approach! Rugby taught me how to really tone things down to get good results from him, and over time....I've learned that many, many dogs really appreciate a slow and easy approach!! It's a great, no stress way to get super results and deep trust between a dog and his handler/owner! <3

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  6. says

    Our Dog Friend Josh markets a clicker ring, we thought that was so impressive. Clickers really can do a lot of good for a dog can't they? Patience is the BIG thing with a puppy or a kitten we think.

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    • Sally says

      Many clickers have a loop on the back so that it can be worn on a finger to accomplish the same thing Josh is doing. I like the idea of a ring, though, because it might be smaller, and then you can have it with you all the time, which is really the ideal to capture the moment....if you want to use a clicker. I also use a verbal marker (yessss) which is often easier for a dog owner, because there's nothing to hold in their hand except a bit of treat, and they are often much more likely to get perfect timing with a verbal marker. It accomplishes the exact same thing, and Rugby works with both, so it's really okay to bypass the actual clicker and use a verbal marker instead. You are SO right that PATIENCE is the BIG key to any success with our pets! 😀

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    • Sally says

      I don't exclusively use a clicker with Rugby or any dog that I train. I do like a clicker with Rugby, because I think his focus is better, but I often use a verbal marker (yessss) and it accomplishes the same thing. Markers can help capture an exact moment in time, which can be really important with some difficult behaviors, but many, many training methods can yield great results if they are rewards based, gentle, and consistently put into practice!! 😀

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  7. FiveSibesMom says

    Love the pics, especially that top one! And the one of you, Rugby, on momma's shoulders! Great training tips, too! Thanks for sharing!

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    • Sally says

      Rugby was the shoulder king when he was an adolescent puppy. He just LOVED to be on my shoulders, and often climbed up there when I sat on the sofa or in a chair. He never minded letting his back end dangle! It was a hoot!! He's a bit long to be as comfortable anymore, and I really kind of miss that special closeness that we had. But now, he just invades my lap or plops on my feet! 😀

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    • Sally says

      Well, you were one smart little cookie!! I'll bet they got great results by using rewards based training!! I'm so glad you gave them the nudge in a really good direction!! 😀

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  8. says

    This is an excellent piece of advice! Training is so much easier on our pets when we tell them what we want them to do rather than what we don't want them to do. Dogs and cats can both be curious and mischievous, but they really desire our love and praise.

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    • Sally says

      Thank you so very much, Robin! Rewards based training yields really great results that are long lasting and really stress free! I think it's easy on pet and owner both! Dogs will work for us, so why not just teach them what we'd like them to do? Once they know and understand what we want, they are happy to produce the appropriate behavior! 😀

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  9. says

    Great post. And so true. Henry and Reese are ten and eleven years old and we quite often take for granted that they demonstrate good behaviour. We spoil them but have slowed down with training. Now that we have the 'new guy,' we have started to praise them all when they give us 'the right answer.' Henry and Reese look so proud of themselves when they get this extra pat on the back.

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    • Sally says

      Thanks! It's so hard to stay focused on rewarding our dogs when they grow up into great, predictable behavior! Rugby is nine now, and while he sure has plenty of "bugs" that I've never successfully worked out, by and large, he has really improved in many areas over everyday life. So glad your "new guy" has given Henry and Reese new opportunities to earn rewards again!! They can be wonderful leaders to your new dog and help that positive behavior come right along the way you want!! 😀

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  10. says

    Aww, you look so cute when you're behaving! It's so important to focus lots on the good behavior as well as the not so good. When my dogs try to jump on me I turn my back & walk away. Dogs hate to be ignored, it's the worst punishment to them!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    • Sally says

      Yes, Ma'am. I think that what's really at the very heart of rewards based training is capturing that moment in time and making the reward so good that the dog thinks to himself,"WOW!! Whatever I just did was SO good, I think I will definitely do that one again!!" And then you have a dog looking for ways to repeat that behavior to get another great reward!! 😀

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