Just recently l got a call from a client who was complaining that he could not tie his shoes in peace because his puppy wanted to play with the laces.
Well, we all know that puppies are fascinated by moving, dangling things and one cannot really blame a puppy for finding shoe laces interesting. In fact I would worry about a puppy who would not be interested.
But to the behavior point: when the puppy played with those laces the client experienced a state of helplessness. In the moment he could only think of getting annoyed at the puppy and yell “no” “stop it” or similar things. From the teaching and learning point of view: the puppy got attention/ reinforcement for a behavior that was considered an annoyance, but the puppy did not get directed what to actually DO…for example : ” sit “.. and watch me tie my shoe laces.
I think one of my goals is to teach my clients and people in general that these “basic obedience “ skills are not simply clinical, isolated exercises. In fact they are very handy and can be used in an interactive way throughout the day.
Once your dog knows cues like sit/stay or down and come, there are so many ways you can integrate them into fun challenges for your dog and at the same time make life much easier for yourself.
How easy for the dog to earn so much more positive attention!
Since the key is to teach your puppy to perform basic skills under more distracting and challenging circumstances, use the distractions you naturally create in your daily comings and goings….like asking for a “sit” while you get dressed.
It takes only a little more effort. A tiny bit of thinking ahead for your puppy. But: You will encourage your dog to expect direction from you. A dog who is intellectually engaged is truly participating in your life all the time.
To me this is what shapes a dog into a true companion.
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