consequences for nuisance behaviors

One of the first things I taught my puppy Zeldi is to settle on the floor during food preparations, human and canine.

She knows that very well. as soon as I pull out the bowls and fill them with their food she knows to settle. She also knows to settle while the humans are having their food.

As a reward both dogs get either table scraps or their favorite yogurt cheese after the humans eat…and yes, sometimes while we eat. As long as there is no jumping and begging. I admit to enjoy feeding my dogs treats.

Sometimes we just have a yogurt cheese party, as I call it. I am at the counter and the dogs get tiny pieces of yogurt cheese.

Zeldi who is going into an adolescent phase and is “testing” boundaries started to bark and moan to get treats. Of course my partner reacts by saying stuff like; this is unacceptable, stop, AHEM..etc etc. I say: please, don’t give her attention for that. So he stopped ( which I appreciate a lot).

But that was not clear enough of a sign for Zeldinchen.

So, just as I taught her to settle, by slowing down or stopping food preparation when Zeldi broke her “settle” I decided to present her with a consequence that really would bring the message home to her that the vocal complaining, demanding to be given morsels of food would not work in her favor.

This is what I did: I gave Petzi a treat when she yowled. I will say that it felt a tad cruel.

However after one repetition she figured it out!

She stopped!

So again: don’t take the “ignore” the behavior literally if the behavior you are trying to extinguish is self reinforcing.  Yes, it might be seen as “negative” punishment (removing something desirable) but the dog can earn what they want very quickly by offering a highly rewarded replacement behavior.