How To Deal With Your Dog's Misbehavior (Do's and Don'ts)

Your dog is doing something you don't want him to do. How should you respond?

I hear this question all the time:

"I get how to use positive reinforcement to teach my dog a new trick, like sit or high five. But how can I use it to teach him NOT to do something?"
 Alternate behavior option: Teach your dog to give you attention instead of barking or pulling towards a distraction or something he is scared of.

Alternate behavior option: Teach your dog to give you attention instead of barking or pulling towards a distraction or something he is scared of.

This is a tough concept for a lot of people - it's definitely counter-intuitive to think about REINFORCING behavior in a situation where the natural inclination is to punish.

But the good news is that you don't need to yell or yank to improve your dog's behavior.

There are three general steps to using positive reinforcement in this type of training scenario:

  1. Prevent your dog from rehearsing the bad behavior
  2. Teach your dog the behavior you want him to do instead
  3. Reinforce that new behavior A LOT.

Within that framework, the specific details you fill in to make your training plan just depend on which behavior you are trying to reduce and the context(s) in which it occurs!

Need a cheat sheet?

This infographic lays out some things to remember when working on altering your dog's behavior. And if you're finding it tough to implement these concepts on your own, contact a positive-reinforcement-based trainer in your area for help designing and implementing your training plan!

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