Beyond Basic Dog Training – Changing Behavior

Almost every owner needs to go beyond the basic dog training fundamentals at one point or another. Although we thoroughly believe that consistency and behavior management from the start are the best practices to follow, where does that leave anyone who did not follow that practice? What happens if you didn’t follow the basic dog training principles and need to go beyond those methods? Where does that leave someone who was given an older Pug or got their Pug from a difficult situation? Where does that leave owners who did a great service and got their dog from a Pug Rescue organization?

There is hope! It does rely on the tactics mentioned before. A key part is that you want your Pug to adopt an alternate behavior. It’s part of the conditioning process. Let’s take a look at the three steps:

1. Create an alternate behavior It’s not enough to want stop a dog from doing something in a certain situation. You want to give him a different way to act in that situation. That alternate behavior will be the one that you reward. In other words you want to manage their behavior. Without an alternate behavior for the dog to follow the possibility exists that, if he’s prevented or corrected from doing one thing, he might do something worse!

So the key is to have a different way for the dog to act in the situation that is causing a problem in the first place. One of the most common and difficult things we hear from Pug owners is their tendency to jump on people. They are very cute and the friendly reaction from most people unwittingly reinforces that behavior. Now, what if your Pug was taught to sit down in front of a new person and just look adorable? The second part of that is easy and comes very naturally to any Pug. So what about the sitting part? This brings us to the second step in Advanced Dog Training.

2. Prevent the unwanted behavior. It’s critical that the unwanted behavior stops. And you certainly don’t want it encouraged by someone responding in a positive fashion when the unwanted behavior is exhibited. So step 2 is to remove the dog from the situation and place him in a less friendly environment. Perhaps there’s a little room that he could be placed in where he won’t destroy anything. You probably don’t want to put him in his cage or his bed because he will associate these locations with unwanted behavior. The main thing is to prevent the unwanted behavior by, first, preventing it from happening. You also want everyone following this same procedure. No one should allow your Pug to jump on people if that’s the behavior you want to change.

3. Reward the new behavior The last step in this process to generously reward the new behavior. If sitting is the behavior you want adopted, you should end up with a Pug who runs up to someone new and immediately takes a seat. Not only will this be extremely cute but you will have gotten rid of a very unwanted behavior!

That provides a three step process that is used by many professionals and forms the foundation for basic dog training. The key is to reward GOOD behavior. Never use a treat to try to counteract bad behavior. You will see more and more of the bad behavior because that's what your Pug will associate with getting his rewards. For more information on basic dog training click here. There's even more help available on line. We think we've found one of the best programs out there.

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