Stopping Dog Behaviors by Teaching the Behavior

teaching dog kissesNot all behaviors our dogs present to us are wanted. It is natural for dogs to jump, paw, lick and even bite other dogs in play and shows of affection. Humans tend to get injured being thin skinned and knocked off balance with only two legs, so these behaviors are dangerous to us even when presented as affection.

Some behaviors like excessive licking and biting can come from puppies that are weaned before six weeks and did not get proper schooling from mom and siblings. Irregardless where the unwanted behaviors come from, we can remove them by putting a cue on them.

The line of thinking is that once there is a cue for the behavior the dog will wait for the cue before executing the behavior. For example, if your dog was born with springs for legs and loves to jump on and around you, you may not want to completely end this behavior, just limit it to your tricks list.

You would set time aside to teach the dog to jump up, not on you, on cue by rewarding the behavior every time the dog jumps up. Then you can add a cue while the dog is performing the jump and then ask for the jump and reward when the dog does it on cue only. Now your dog has a new trick they can perform on cue and they have learned to wait for the cue to perform it.

Licking can be handled the same way. Decide where you would like the dog to “give kisses” and go about teaching the dog to “kiss” that place consistently and on command. We had a dog that learned to greet people by giving them a “kiss” on the back of the hand. He was not a big people lover and it gave him confidence in meeting new people without them petting him.

Remember that trick training is just like any other cued behavior. Don’t drill the dog and stop training before the dog loses complete interest in the lesson. Fade out treats as the dog shows comprehension of the lesson and then only treat on improvements or extra flare and keep sessions short and always upbeat.