Dog Behavior Modification

Dog behavior modification has everything to do with convincing your small dog that what you want them to do was their idea in the first place.

This is what happened to me:

Sassy was giving me a hard time again.

I needed her to come inside, but Sassy wasn’t buying it. As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure she was laughing at me. I followed her around the back yard, talking to her nice and offering her yummies. Nope. She cocked her head, would move a step or two forward then back off again.

I tried the quick lunging approach. That didn’t work either. Sassy is a little otter of a dog and can slide out of any grip. So I went back to the talk and yummies. But the more time I spent cajoling and sweet talking, the more I got the impression that I was training her to spend as long as possible to come to me – after all, this was fun, as far as she was concerned!

Geez! So – no more lunges, and no more sweet-talking. I resorted to a quick fix and a long term solution.

The Quick Fix

I put a light nylon leash on Sassy’s collar when I let her out in the backyard. It was short and unlikely to get tangled up in the bushes. Then, when I needed to fetch her I could go for the leash rather than the dog. A leash handle is easier to grip than a slippery Silky! I praised her effusively once I had her in hand because I wanted her to know that coming to me was fun, after all.

This “quick fix” approach can apply to many things. Dog behavior modification here is all about figuring out a solution that rewards your dog for correct behavior.

The Long Term Solution

But Sassy’s game was a symptom of a greater problem. She thought it was fun to misbehave. She listened to me when she felt like it -- and she usually wasn’t in the mood. She was never an awful dog because she is natively sweet and friendly, not because she was well trained.

Sassy had decided that being under my control wasn’t fun. Dog behavior modification would help show her that she was wrong.

Sassy loves to be groomed. I guess she treats it like a spa day. So I started grooming her for about 15 minutes every day, even when she didn’t need it. At a certain point she would sigh and relax – and allow herself to be controlled by me.

Another dog named Rocket had a similar problem. But though he hated being groomed, he loved vigorous walks. So that’s what I did with this particular wild child; several times a week we’d head out into our quiet neighborhood at a fast trot. At a certain point, Rocket would sigh and relax slightly. He did willingly what I asked, and it hadn’t killed him.

Both dogs were significantly more biddable after this.

Basically you want to control your dog in an area that he or she really loves, to teach them that doing what you say might just be okay, after all. Dog behavior modification is not a quick fix and requires some thought on your part, but done right will result in a companion significantly more willing and obedient – for the most part.

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