Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Improving Our Relationship With Dogs

Dedicated to improving our relationship with dogs has been our motto at Carrvilla for more than twenty-five years.
So how do we do that? What single thing can we do to improve how we relate to our dogs?
Let them know when what they do pleases you, praise. It's so easy, just say, "Good dog."
If you have ever had your boss look over your shoulder at your work and then say nothing, you know how disconcerting silence can be. A simple, "That's good." makes all the difference in the world.

Old school task masters say stupid thinks like, "A dog must earn the praise." That is so much humbug.
Praise when given freely increases the chances of the dog wanting to do what pleases you. Think about it. Every time the dog gives us a wrong we correct by saying no. The dog gives a right answer. If silence is the only greeting a correct answer recieves, you have just decreased your chances of getting that answer again. 
If we mark the behavior we want with praise, we teach the dog to recognize what we like. 
Before we can get to that point, we need to get the dog to fall in love with the sound of our voice telling him how good he is. In this first falling in love stage we need to give praise often or else who the heck cares.
Not too long ago a woman said to me, " You don't expect me to say good dog every time the dog does what I say; do you?" I had to laugh because I'd been listening to her say no to the dog every few seconds for what seemed like forever. 
When you praise the behaviors you like, the dog becomes confident that he is pleasing you. Now, who doesn't want a dog hooked on praise?

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