Working on a new behavior? Just trying to get away from a problematic behavior?

Working on a new behavior? Just trying to get away from a problematic behavior?

First piece of hard-won wisdom - is to cue a behavior they are already exhibiting. Last week I worked at a local shelter with a small Terrier who didn't listen, jumped on you, air snapped, nibbled on leashes, fingers, and soft toys. We sprayed the floor with TEAMWORK (because we wanted him thinking about '4 on the floor') and worked WITH his busy-body-ness - not punishing it - we made it our asset cueing the action with the word JUMP.

Second, encourage that behavior even if it is excessive vocalization, taking something you have (leash, toy, food), or being evasive - as in running away. (You can mark that behavior by using a new word like GO THERE pointing to where they are at that moment. I like to use a word, a gesture, and a sound (whistle, kiss, click, tsssk) - then you can drop 2 out of 3 later when the ideas of what you want are securely planted in the fertile "garden of their mind, body, and emotions."

Difficult part is for humans! Quit using the OLD word that you used to use to stop the behavior you did not want - like STOP! QUIT! QUIET! SHHHHHHHT! Unless you want to cue and encourage barking, jumping, doorbell crazies, etc.

Third, as soon as they offer a new, positive behavior like being quiet or calm, going to the 'safe place' like away from the front door, or maybe offering a play bow or a sit or a high five. Something "good" that you can reward with tons of vocal praise, treats or a lick, or a super great rub and atta boys. Some prefer to be alone and quiet for a minute - when they come looking for attention; they are probably ready to 'work' again.

Make all of this fun. Make it their agenda, their gain, their win. Like the Terrier at the shelter, after he showed a willingness to listen and work as a team - we brought more fun into his life by taking him out to the grassy yard full of toys, balls, and CREATED A JUMP FOR HIM just like on an agility course! The Jack is off on a new career!

Proving our PET theory again: Play first. See what they are bringing to the table. Engage with them. Ask them to engage with you. When you see that; start Teaching. Play. Engage; Train. Then what? Play more!