• Jenny Higgins

The Productive Secret

Ah, secrets; they are so captivating. If you would like to learn about a productive secret to teaching dogs, look no further! The productive secret is to teach your dog what you DO want them to do. Pretend that it is impossible to convey to your dog the cencepts 'no' and 'don't'.


While you are teaching affirmative actions (Settle, Leave-it, Drop, etc), set the dog's environment up for success. It is truly much more productive to prevent counter-surfing with supervision and separation rather than wait for your dog to jump on the counter and then try to punish that act with something like a water bottle spray or loud noise. To take that example a step further on the affirmative side: Stand near the counter that has food and reward your dog for laying on a nearby floormat. Your dog can learn that the floormat is a hotspot and it is way more productive to just lie there when there are yummy smells in the kitchen rather than try to sniff at or jump at the countertops. If your pup is quite pushy and curious, tether them away from the counters while you cook or use their crate to start. This way, the option of counter-surfing is taken away and we have the opportunity to reward calm around exciting smells. Eventually, we try again off the tether or out of the crate now that they have a history of being around the good smells, but getting rewarded for lying down around them.


Dog trainers are here to help you set proper management & prevention tools in place while teaching you and your dog the appropriate behaviors we would like from situation to situation. Here is a quote from Stanley Coren's book,

How Dogs Think: Understanding the Canine Mind, reflecting on how much we have been able to learn about the canine brain in recent years: "...in comparison with humans, dogs have a mental ability similar to that of a two-year-old child."


We need to be fair and productive with our teaching of dogs. It is not right to set them up to fail and then try to show them that was wrong. Just like we do with our two-year-old children (I was lucky enough to work in a two-year-old classroom), set your dogs up for success and reward what you DO want the dog to do.


Happy teaching!



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