It is very easy to reward the wrong behaviours with puppies and dogs. We tend to ignore them when they are settled, or playing nicely with their toys, but when it comes to our perceived unacceptable behaviours – stealing our stuff, jumping up, being a pain, we are encouraging these by eye contact, talking to them (they don’t understand the word NO!) and waving our hands around. Dog’s don’t have the same moral compass as us, they just do whatever works to get our attention. Telling off is pointless – it is rewarding for them!
Instead, do our 50 treats a day challenge and see the difference in your dog’s behaviour. Don’t panic – I am not encouraging obesity here…. I am encouraging you to ‘ditch the bowl’ and use up dinner biscuits and tasty treats and reward throughout the day for all the little examples of ‘good behaviour’ – or any one that you want your puppy to do.
If you want to, you can still give them a small portion of their dinner in a bowl (or snuffle mat, or toppl, or in an eggbox) but separate out a number of their dry biscuits (or pea sized balls of mince raw/wet food, or fill a squeezy tube of raw/blended wet food) and add some nice tasty treats too – chicken, ham, cheese, blueberries, peas, or carrots for example (whatever your dog LOVES).
Have this pot of treats handy, and every time your dog does something you want it to do more of, reward it! See them with all their paws on the floor near visitors – reward it (and try to do this before they jump up!), see them settle on their bed – great! See them playing with their toys, silently drop a treat near the toy as a good little surprise! Out on a walk….every time they look back at you – treat it! When they come back to you when called – wow- bonus – several tasty treats for that one.
You get the picture, all you need to do is treat the stuff you see your dog doing that you like.
This also gets you to focus on all the positive stuff your dog is doing, rather than looking for the negative.
Repeat this challenge and start seeing the difference. Not only is your relationship with your pup improving, but they will be more willing to do those behaviours that are most rewarding – what gets rewarded gets repeated!
PS – you may find that 50 treats a day may not be enough for all those super moves your pup will be doing!