Dogs, when left to their own devices, tend to invent activities for themselves that are surprisingly creative but at the same time, surprisingly or perhaps not so surprisingly, not exactly what humans might consider “wonderful behavior”. Seemingly out of nowhere a dog may decide to behave in a most embarrassing and annoying fashion.
Of course we are perplexed and shocked! So what we do is we scream “NO”. It’s a knee-jerk reaction.
But what does that mean to the dog? Even if he understands that he is doing something that causes you to be alarmed or very unhappy, what will prevent him from inventing an equally undesirable or astonishingly, an even less desirable activity?
So instead of attempting new records at the high jump he will now chew the leg of your antique table with equal enthusiasm.
The lesson for humans: Instead of yelling “NO” when your dog rips the newspaper into a million shreds and chasing after him when he runs away with pieces of newspaper stuck to his tongue, give him an equally entertaining but acceptable activity to do. For example: you might offer him a toy made out of velcro that makes really nice ripping sounds. This is a more effective method of dog training.
Dogs may not have an innate understanding of what we humans consider good, clean fun. But with a bit of clarity and guidance we can shape their opinions quite easily.
Just don’t say “NO”.