Reprinted with permission from Sally Hummel, Rugby James. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced elsewhere in any form. Copyright July 26, 2016.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
In 2007, a dog trainer found herself falling in love with her first rescue dog. That trainer was Sally Hummel and the dog would become Rugby James. The goal of her website is to provide education, support, community, encouragement, and hope. Difficult dogs are often “recycled from shelter to home to shelter to home, and back to shelter, until they are often put to sleep.” Sally would like to change this by sharing her own day to day life with a “neurotic” dog. She wants to help owners “stay committed to their pooch, and try to make life better for them.” Her site exists because she believes pet owners can live well with a difficult dog. Her own Rugby James is living proof of that!