How to Encourage Positive Behaviour in Your Dog

Dog wearing a tie

Monday, December 26, 2022

Why dogs need to be trained?

Dogs are naturally friendly animals: always enthusiastic, ready to play, obedient, and mostly happy. However, sometimes their enthusiasm and energetic nature can get out of hand, and lead to misbehaviour. Teaching them manners, what should be done, and what should not is a crucial step of owning a dog. 

Luckily, unlike cats (who do not recognise positive or negative reinforcements), dogs are often wired to understand if and when their actions are being rewarded or punished. They have the inherent ability to connect reinforcements by their paw parents with their deeds. 

This is why it is always much, much easier to train dogs, as compared to other animals. And why dogs are so highly recruited for police services, etc. 

So, what is positive reinforcement

Dogs, given their naivety, do not view the world like humans do. A common misconception amongst pet owners, is ‘if you punish the pet, they would not repeat it again’. However, punishment almost never works. All it does, is makes your pets afraid, and not trust you, and often yields no real-life, long-term results. 

Punishing can also lead to PTSD amongst dogs, if they have rescued or them developing trauma, which can in turn result in several behavioural problems down the road. 

Positive reinforcement is when your reward your dog for behaving, instead of punishing them for misbehaving. They would then associate the ‘good behaviour’ with ‘rewards’ and are more likely to follow the route that gets them there. 

Here are 6 methods how you can encourage positive behaviour in your dogs, and train them to be better feline friends. 

Give treats and praises for good behaviour

The best method of positive reinforcement is to reward your dog’s good behaviour. This can be done by handing them a treat everytime they do something that you want to encourage. For example, if you want them NOT to sit on the sofa, and to instead sit on the floor, everytime they sit on the floor, hand them a treat. They would then associate ‘sitting on the floor’ with ‘getting treats’ and are more likely to do that henceforth onwards. 

Dogs are also excellent at understand positive words and actions. To encourage good behaviour, shower them with affection and praises and they would then keep repeating the good behaviour to get more affection and praises. 

Do not act on bad behaviour 

Dogs are simple creatures. They want your love and they want your attention. Anything they do is simply because they want YOU to be involved in it. They do understand the concept of ‘me time’ and ‘leisure activities’. Therefore, if you start ignoring and blocking out all their bad behaviours, they would only be engaging in activities that extract your attention and gets them treats. 

Use one word commands 

One word commands such “no”, “yes”, “sit”, “stop”, “go”, etc. are well understood by dogs. It is an excellent, and swift way to make your feelings known to your pet. Try and incorporate these vocabulary into their daily life; repetitive words would help them understand the context better and govern their behaviour accordingly. 

Discourage biting and nipping from an early age 

Puppies tend to bite and nip (gently) to show affection or get your attention, While this is alright when they are babies, it becomes hurtful when they are full-grown dogs. It is suggested that you discourage this behaviour right from their childhood by pretending to be hurt, expressing loudly that their actions of biting has caused you harm. Dogs, being the affectionate and caring creature that they are, would automatically back off and try to console you, and in most likeliness not repeat the action again. 

Keep them busy with activities 

A great way of keeping your dogs from misbehaving is to keep them engrossed in various activities, such as catch and throw, hikes, walks, etc. However, we understand that you may not always have time to play with them, but by introducing them to activities that the can engage in independently, you are making sure that your dog does not have enough time to get wrapped in mischievous activities. Many interactive toys such as tether balls, chew toys, treasure hunt with treats and toys, etc. can get the job done. 

Do not be the only one to interact with them

If you’re a family of more than one person, it is extremely crucial that your dog has bonding time with all the family members. This would make sure that they are taking commands, listening to, and obeying all members of the family equally. Even if you’re the primary caretaker of your dog, other members of your family, or your roommate, friends, etc. should be carrying out positive reinforcements, so as to not let them think that you, as their paw parent, are the only one with the ‘rewards’. Otherwise, this would lead to them listening to ONLY you, and misbehaving with your guests.