We’re big proponents of positive force-free training at Four Muddy Paws.  Basically we reward the dog for doing behaviors we like and we ignore the behaviors we don’t like.  Everyone likes a reward and dogs & cats, like all animals, will do whatever it takes to get a reward.  If a certain behavior doesn’t get a reward, they’ll try another. 

Here’s a great example of how this reinforcement works in the people world.  Karen Pryor, founder of www.clickertraining.com, related a story about an oil company executive. 

Here’s an excerpt:

The Oil Executive had a mean boss. He was brutal: blaming, finding fault, belittling, angry. Everyone was alarmed to see him come into their office and glad to see him go, including the woman who was telling me the story.

“This makes no sense at all,” she told herself. So she developed a tactic. When he came to talk to her, if his tone was pleasant, she looked at him. If his words became unpleasant, she looked away. If the voice became normal again, she looked back. When the boss stayed calm, she offered him candy.

By and by, he got nicer. Poor man, she thought, probably no one is ever nice to him, since he preempts any conversation with angry behavior.

The boss began to be calmer with others, so much so that people were commenting that he seemed to be in a good mood lately. So then the woman passed on her “secret”—look away and look back. Everyone tried this, and the whole climate of the office changed. Now she’s happy, and so is everyone else, a lot more work gets done, and people even stay late sometimes.

Try this at home, at work, in the neighborhood, at the market…iclicks

Do you have a nagger, a whiner, a blamer, or a teaser in your life? Those behaviors are commonplace because they work. You give people who behave this way attention, even in just trying to stop them. How about trying a little reinforcement yourself? Looking away, by itself, doesn’t do the trick. It’s the looking BACK is the reward!) in the instant the unpleasant tone stops that makes it work. 

If you’re interested in more on Clicker Training for your dog or cat go to www.clickertraining.com or The Association of Pet Dog Trainers at http://www.trainyourdogmonth.com.

Also, go to our Resources page on our website for local trainers utilizing science-based positive training techniques.