The Well-Behaved Pooch: Best Practices in Dog Training
“Get back here!”
“No, no, no… No, Riley, no!”
“Mac, drop it. Drop it, Mac. Maaaaaaaac!!”
There’s perhaps nothing as annoying as listening to someone yell at his or her dog, who has decided to explore or eat something, roam or simply misbehave. Yet, at every park or campground, we often hear the familiar and droning scolding of a pooch on the loose.
Likewise, it can be frustrating to be that pet owner scolding away at your pet… But there is hope.
Ideally, you have had the opportunity to start your dog training classes when your pooch was a puppy, generally beginning at 10-12 weeks of age (an ideal time for behavioral training and socialization). However, the reality is, many of us adopt dogs who have not been trained or exposed to dog parks and other social places. Many shelter dogs or rescues have been subjected to stressful environments where behavioral challenges and fears can be developed.
Positive Reinforcement as Focus
So, what is the best way to discipline a dog who just will not listen? First of all, let’s put aside the word discipline and focus rather on positive reinforcement and behavior modification through praise-oriented tactics. According to results of clinical studies done by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, dogs trained only with positive reinforcement exhibited fewer problem behaviors.
Furthermore, many dogs will not respond to fear-inciting scolds or yells. In fact, sometimes this will simply increase the behaviors you do not want him or her to exhibit, since the focus, and therefore attention, is placed on the negative rather than the positive.
Dog Training Tips
If your dog is continuing to display destructive behaviors, Elmhurst Animal Care Center offers a variety of classes and private training sessions that are focused on positive reinforcement and ethical obedience. If you suspect separation anxiety or an underlying health issue, please consider scheduling an exam in advance of training classes to rule out any possible issues and create a tailored behavioral plan for your best friend.