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Pet Column: Improve your dog’s bad behavior with one simple trick

Dog trainer Elle Williams is pictured with her rescue dogs Bear, Gracie, Olive and Bandit. Photo provided by Elle Williams.

By Elle Williams, CPDT-KA  
Pet Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider  

What if I told you there was one super simple thing you could be doing with your dog that can vastly improve your dog’s behavior? It’s no gimmick or some expensive piece of equipment, and it hardly takes any time out of your day. Too good to be true? Nope, just some no-brainer psychology that many dog owners aren’t applying enough of in everyday life.

Reward good behavior. Yup, that’s it. Often, bad behavior affects us more directly; we pay more attention to things that upset us than we do to things that please us. For example, people are more inclined to leave a bad review than a good one.

Dogs live for our attention, and what better way to get it than by jumping, barking, chewing the sofa, begging, stealing the remote, pawing at our face… the list goes on and on. But what if every time our dog greeted us with a sit they got a good cuddle? Or if they bring us their toy they got a game of tug. See where I’m going with this?

Rewarding good behavior with attention, praise, physical affection, play, and treats means a dog is more likely to repeat or offer that behavior in the future.

I’m not talking about rewarding just outstanding behavior, your dog doesn’t need to save anyone from drowning to get a lot of praise. Be aware of the simple things, like when your dog is calm while being leashed or when your dog grabs their toy to chew on.

It’s easy to overlook the times a dog doesn’t bark at the delivery man or lays on its bed during the human’s dinner time. So often we only give dogs attention while they bark their heads off when the doorbell rings or when they are trying to steal food off the dinner table. 

When your dog is being good, ask yourself what other things it could be doing that would get on your nerves. If you come up with a least one, then praise your dog. 

It’s really that simple. The more you reward your dog with a a good behavior with attention, praise, physical affection, toys, play, and/or treats, the more likely your dog will offer that behavior in the future.

Elle Williams is a local in-home dog trainer and the owner of Give a Sit Dog Training. She is certified in dog psychology, nutrition, and grooming, and specializes in basic and advanced obedience, puppy prep, and behavior adjustment training.

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