Stop, Watch, Wait, Reward
Our dogs train us because they have better observation skills and more patience. Fido can actually tell by your body language when you are about to give in!
Want to turn the table on him? Ok, let's do it! To replace those undesired behaviors with desired behaviors, follow these general guidelines: STOP, WATCH, WAIT, REWARD.
- STOP: Stop what you are doing, stand perfectly still like a silent statue.
- WATCH: Watch your dog carefully...look for any desired behavior.
- WAIT: Wait, wait, wait for it...keep your lips together and your hands still!
- REWARD: When any desired behavior is performed, reinforce it with a reward.
For example, if your dog jumps on you when you enter your home:
- STOP: Stand perfectly still and be absolutely silent.
- WATCH: Observe your dog out of the corner of your eye and watch for any desired behavior.
- WAIT: Wait, wait, wait for a desired behavior, such as a sit or even just eye contact with all four paws-on-the-floor.
- REWARD: Mark (click) the desired behavior, and then toss a treat. Proceed into the house.
After just a few times, your dog will begin to offer the desired behaviors more quickly upon your arrival at home. Continue to reinforce desired behavior every time you enter your home. I find it helpful to keep a clicker and a jar of dry treats near the door.
About the Author: Caryn Self-Sullivan teaches people to train pets and people at The Positive Quarter; she specializes in private in-home training to resolve behavioral problems. Dr. Caryn is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and holds a Ph.D. in animal behavior from Texas A&M University. Contact her at 540.287.8207 or AskDrCaryn@gmail.com.