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Desirable Behaviors

Your dog has a bad habit. Common bad habits can include jumping, garbage diving, and excessive barking. All your pleas/wishing your dog to stop this habit didn’t work.

Well of course not — we didn’t change anything so why should the dog change? This habit is worth it to them; it’s fun, it gives them something to do and sometimes it rewards BIG.

To stop a habit — we need to replace it with another task, a healthier habit. We need to provide a clear objective to our dog of what we want them to do instead when they’re looking for a thrill.

So first let’s identify when your dog does this bad habit. Is it when someone is coming through the door? Is it when you leave them unattended in the kitchen? We will come back to this.

Then we need to teach the desirable behavior in a more conducive environment. By identifying the trigger and removing it or the dog from the environment, we’re able to have a rational conversation rather than in the heat of the moment.

Example, if your dogs ‘bad’ habit is chasing after the vacuum cleaner, it won’t be on or even in sight during this phrase.

Then we teach:

A place command, “mark” is probably the most effective way to replace bad habits.

Have your dog eat their meals on the “mark” to build a positive association with it During this we should be consistent with our expectations (no barking/growling and wait for us to release you). We direct expectations with the leash and reward with their food often for behaviors we like.

Once they understand that impulse control pays we can introduce the trigger, in this case the vacuum cleaner, in the corner or at a distance. With each incremental success the vacuum cleaner can get closer, periodically moving and then eventually turned on. With each fail we start over and try again using the leash to reinforce them back on the “mark.”

The dog’s neutrality and impulse control on the “mark” should be reinforced in multiple contexts. This makes a seamless transition when we introduce them back into the situation where they would usually default to the bad habit.

We don’t stop habits, we replace them.


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