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Tips To Encourage Positive Behavior From Your Dog

March 11, 2024

tips to encourage positive behavior from your dog

Scolding or punishing a dog may work to prevent undesirable behavior, but you also need to add positive reinforcement for the behavior to stop. 

Consistent dog training and having a balance in your training is the best way to encourage positive behavior from your dog while increasing your bond with you and the rest of your household.

8 Ways To Stop “Bad” Dog Behaviors & Achieve The Results You Want

Stopping the undesirable behaviors - and reinforcing positive behaviors - create a synergy and flow between the canines and humans in the household. An added benefit is the thousands of dollars you’ll save on damaged carpets, furnishings, designer clothing/shoes, kids’ toys, etc. 

If your dog’s behaviors feel beyond your control - or your dog exhibits signs of aggression - contact a professional dog trainer ASAP. The longer things go on as they are, the worse they’ll become without the right assessment and training.

Here are eight ways to nip negative dog behaviors in the bud before they bloom into larger-scale issues.

Enroll yourselves in a group or one-on-one dog training

Professional dog training sessions are one of the best ways to prevent negative behaviors from the beginning. While some clients prefer one-on-one sessions (recommended if your dog is aggressive around other people or dogs), others benefit far more from group training sessions.

  • One-on-one dog training. The one-on-one sessions are more expensive but make more sense if you have a busy schedule, can’t make the regularly scheduled times inherent in group training sessions, or if your situation is more complex than most. We’ll discuss whether this feels like the best fit. We also have the opportunity to be in your home, which can help identify triggers (or ideas) that we wouldn’t pick up on otherwise.
  • Group dog training sessions. We love group training classes, and so will you and your dog. These training sessions have all of the benefits of one-on-one professional training but also help your dog to socialize with other dogs and people. 
  • Doggy boot camp. Finally, your local dog trainer probably offers doggy boot camps. With this format, your dog moves into our home with our pack. In just 14 days, your dog will learn the gamut of obedience skills, including necessary “people skills,” to live in harmony with their new pack. When the two weeks are up, we include four “human training classes,” where we teach you to work with your dog to learn their new commands, gestures, and skills.

But remember, the effects of professional dog training are only as lasting as the “training” continues. Your household must use the same words, gestures, and cues to get your dogs to continue behaving as you want them to.

Vary your positive reinforcement techniques

Most people are familiar with treat training, it is a good way to get a dog to do what you want. Using small, healthy training treats (available at any pet supply store), reward your new puppy or dog for anything they do that makes you happy or falls within the house rules.

However, you want them to do it for more than just treats. Other forms of positive reinforcement include:

  • Verbal praise.
  • Lots of pets, hugs, and cuddles while rewarding them with verbal praise.
  • Playing with them for a quick minute (a ball toss, tug-of-war, a wrestle, etc.)
  • Following something they don’t like (bath, teeth brushing, riding in the car ) with something fun - like a play session, walk, a couple of turns through a backyard agility course, a trip to the dog park).

Varying positive reinforcement prevents them from anchoring on one expectation after they do something right.

Have lots of fun

Have you ever watched dogs at a dog park? If so, you know how playful dogs are - well into their adulthood. And, while some dogs are more social than others, dogs always like to play with their human companions.

The more you spend time having fun with your dog, the more connected the dog feels to you, and this bonding goes a long way when it comes to encouraging positive behaviors. If you work all day and your dog is home alone, have a variety of toys you move in and out of the rotation so they can play independently and burn off energy.  

Learn to read your dog's cues and communication

Half the battle with potty training is learning a dog’s cues (and for them to learn yours). Most dogs sniff and walk around in circles, covering the same area before they urinate/defecate. When you see this behavior at home, you learn to get them outside. Then, praise them considerably to teach them that is exactly what you want them to do. This is just one example of dog body language and signaling. 

The more you observe your dog and what they’re telling you, the better you’ll predict what they need, want, or plan to do next. Dogs communicate with their bodies in the canine world, so learning dog body language is an excellent place to start. If you work with a trainer, they’ll also teach you more about what your dog’s signals mean.

Most “bad behaviors” are rooted in anxiety and fear. Pay attention to the environment and things that trigger dog behavior - or consider what may be lacking.

Give them plenty of exercise

Dogs need to exercise regularly, and some breeds have higher energy levels than others. Choose your dog wisely. Whether you purchase a pure-bred dog or adopt a dog at a shelter (our recommendation), ensure you and your family can commit to a daily dog exercise routine. Your veterinarian can tell you how much exercise your dog needs based on the breed and what they’ve learned from you.

In addition to elevating their risk of being overweight and developing health issues, underexercised dogs are more prone to anxiety, aggression, and undesirable behaviors. If you can’t exercise your dog as much as you planned, invest in professional dog walking or doggy day care services. 

Create a routine

Dogs like a routine. The more consistent your days are, the better. Use the same vocal commands and hand signals for things like:

If things are always different, it’s confusing, and your dog can’t tell what you want (or don’t want). Creating consistency around the things you do regularly together eases the way for everyone.

Get the whole household on board

Imagine living in a house where everyone speaks a different language. While you may eventually learn them all, you’ll make plenty of mistakes. This is how it is for a dog living in a household with inconsistent family members. If you all say different things or enforce different rules, it’s stressful for dogs and makes them feel insecure. 

Again, dog trainers are ideal for this because they’ll help you learn consistent signaling and gestures. However, the key is to use the same commands and signals. Get your family together and decide what words you’ll use - and what hand gestures to accompany them. At the very least, you’ll want to teach the dog:

  • Sit.
  • Lay down (“down”).
  • Stay.
  • Off or No jump (to keep them off of you and guests when you enter the house or room).
  • Heel (when walking on a leash to keep your dog from pulling or to keep them close to you, depending on the situation).

Express forgiveness

Dogs know when we’re mad at them, but they don’t harbor resentment like we do. So, it’s important to express forgiveness and love within a reasonable time. For example, time-outs** work well for dogs because they’re social animals. However, it shouldn’t be for more than five to ten minutes, or it loses its impact. Then, bring them back into the fold with love and cuddles.

**It takes most dogs about 10 to 20 times to realize their isolation resulted from their behavior, but stick with it. Time outs are one way to correct for things like nipping, barking incessantly at knocks/doorbells, jumping on people as a greeting, or pestering you for attention (assuming they're adequately exercised). 

We're Here To Help Encourage Positive Behaviors From Your Dogs

Could you use some professional assistance bringing a new dog into the household or encouraging the behaviors you want from a dog who misbehaves? Contact Alternative Canine Training. We’ve been in business for over 40 years and never met a dog we couldn’t train. Now, they’re humans? That’s a different story…

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