Positive Reinforcement Training isn't Permissive

See, we're on our mats! We'd like to order treat take-out, please!

See, we're on our mats! We'd like to order treat take-out, please!

Whenever people visit our home, most of the time they comment on how well behaved our terrier mix is. This makes me proud and gives me a chuckle. She certainly has her naughty moments. Did I mention she’s a terrier mix? Behaviorally speaking, if an otter and a racoon mated, you’d have our terrier mix.

Some people believe that training with positive reinforcement means letting animals get away with everything. Not true, at least not in our home! Positive is not permissive when it comes to undesirable behaviors. So what are we doing at home and how can you do it too?

We start by encouraging desirable behaviors. We play with our dog whenever she brings us a toy. If my dog and cat are sitting on their mats while I cook dinner, then they get to be taste testers. We reward our dog and cat for making good choices. It’s easier for pets to make good choices and avoid naughty choices when they are tired. Making sure that both our cat and dog receive daily exercise and mental enrichment makes life easier for everyone.

We make expectations clear for our cat and dog by setting consistent boundaries, managing our home environment, and training. We’ve trained incompatible behaviors to replace counter surfing and jumping. We put away laundry and shoes until we trained our dog to leave them alone. We put our animals in another room or outside if distractions overload their little brains. My husband asks everyone entering our home if they have any food in their bags. This helps us thwart our terrier’s surgical strikes of Operation Purse Power Bar Extraction.

When you catch your animals misbehaving, interrupt and redirect. The more they practice the misbehavior, the longer it takes to change it. Make a plan to prevent that misbehavior from happening again. Your misbehavior action plan should include management, training, plus mental and physical exercise. Rewarding your pets with treats, praise, and access to desirable activities is information. Withholding these rewards from your pets is also information. Positive is not permissive, and it’s up to you to set your dog up for success.

Let us set you and your pets up for success! Contact us for private training and group lessons.