Dog Behavior Correction
Information on dog behavior correction is usually what dog guardians are looking for when they call a dog behavior specialist. Many times these guardians are looking for some kind of negative consequence (often incorrectly referred to as "behavior correction") to get their dogs to stop the "bad" dog behaviors in question. Thus I often get a question such as "What do I do when s/he ...."
Unfortunately, it is the rare case where correcting problem dog behavior is achieved simply by employing a negative consequence when the dog displays the behavior. Instead, the dog needs to be trained to react differently to whatever stimulus is causing the behavior. This is a process known as "Behavior Modification."
An example of dog behavior correction using behavior modification is to
teach a dog to sit,
instead of jump, when greeting people. An arriving person is the stimulus which causes the dog to display a problem behavior; jumping on that person. Dogs usually jump on people in an effort to get attention. Dogs think that
is an appropriate way to get attention, because jumping is the way puppies get attention from older dogs. Knowing this, we can use careful training to teach a dog that sitting when a person approaches will get it the attention that it wants. In this way jumping is modified into sitting.
In the above example, the dog may receive a negative consequence for jumping; such as being ignored (the opposite of what the dog is looking for). However, this negative consequence would not be enough to correct the dog behavior of jumping. By leaning to sit when a human approaches, the dog has acquired a technique to get its wanted attention, and therefore, has no more reason to jump. Thus, correction of the negative dog behavior is achieved.
For a more serious bad dog behavior, part of dog behavior correction will require the guardian to not put her/his dog in a situation where the dog will exhibit the behavior, until a new behavior can be established. For instance, if a dog is barking and lunging at every dog that it sees on its daily walks, I will ask the owner to only walk the dog where it won't encounter other dogs. Usually, this means that the dog will only be walked in training sessions around its house and yard, until behavior modification has been established.
While the dog's ability to be around other dogs is being limited, encounters with dogs can be set up in controlled situations where the owner and I can modify the dog's behavior so that it has a new way to react to other dogs. The removal of the stimulus, except in controlled situations, is critical in this case, because every time the dog reacts negatively to another dog, it is strengthening the habit of reacting negatively. And, as anyone who has ever tried to break a bad habit knows, the more ingrained the habit, the harder it is to break. So, the best way to achieve the correction of a "bad" dog behavior is often to not let the behavior occur, while teaching a new behavior.
In this section of the website, you can find information on
calming a hyper dog,
a more complete description of
dog behavior correction of jumping,
and a blog post on
dog behavior correction for a fearful dog.
Look for more information on correction of dog behavior issues as this website grows, and in my
You will notice that all of my advice for correction of problem dog behavior involves behavior modification of some sort. It is really important to me to train dogs using methods that bring out their natural desire to serve and please humans; not to force them into behaving correctly. And, behavior modification is the best way to achieve this.
If you would like a complete guide on how to train your dog to be well-behaved,
get my e-book
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