We’ve Got It All Backwards!

When our puppies or adult dogs do something we don’t like, we humans are great at correcting and lavishing negative attention on our attention starved pups. What do we do the other 90% of the time when they are behaving in a way that is unnatural for dogs, but expected by us? (things like not jumping on our guests, not stealing food off the counter, coming back to us when we call, not pulling on the leash, not barking and lunging at other dogs on leash)…Nothing! We simply expect it. We know that Thorndike’s Law of Effect states…”behaviours that are reinforced stay, behaviours that are not reinforced go away.” If we start flipping it around, stop focusing on correcting unwanted behaviours, set our dogs up to succeed at the behaviours we want (things like pre-empting their jumping and barking by asking for a sit prior to the situation and reinforcing and praising the wanted behaviour) and lavish positive reinforcement and praise on our dogs the 90% of the time they are being awesome, guess what we will start to see more of? The behaviours we want. It is the Law of Effect. Praise