Imagine living in a world of “Wrong”! You are just going about your business – hanging out on the couch or working in the yard and then someone comes up and yells at you: “Don’t do that!” I think after a while, that might get a bit frustrating and you might feel like yelling back: “Well, what DO you want me to do!”
Our dogs find themselves a lot of time in the same dilemma. Here are a few possible don’ts that they encounter on a daily basis:
- Don’t bark at the fence
- Don’t sit on the couch
- Don’t dig up the yard
- Don’t chew the kid’s toys
- Don’t jump on them either
The problem that our dog encounters is that we do not teach him an alternative to the undesired behavior so he is left to his own devices to come up with something else, which is usually not better than his first activity. So instead of telling your dog what NOT to do, you might want to teach him WHAT to do instead.
For example, instead of barking at the fence, work on his “come” and whisk him off into the house for a treat or some other fun activity. Instead of telling him where not to sit, reward him with praise and treats if he is sitting on his doggie bed.
If he tears up your yard, you might want to give him his own “digging pit” made out of a kiddy pool.
Give him his own toys (make sure they don’t look like the children’s toys), teach him “leave it!” for when he gets confused , and reward him by playing with him with his own toys when he drops the undesired one.
And finally, teach him “Four on Floor” – meaning that he only gets attention, like petting when he has all four paws on the floor, sitting or standing politely.
So next time you find yourself saying “Don’t!”- replace it with a “Do!” instead.