Here is a reminder of how behavior works


All reinforced behaviors will increase in frequency in the future. This includes behaviors the puppy finds reinforcing simply because they work in their favor or they are simply self-reinforcing because they are fun. For the latter great examples are barking and jumping. Barking and jumping very often get the puppy what they want: attention. But I digress.

Quite often, people then decide that the puppy has sooo much energy they have to “get rid of” by tiring the puppy out. They walk or run the puppy until the puppy is exhausted and then falls asleep. However, when the puppy wakes up, they have to start tiring out the puppy again because the puppy is beginning to crave the behavior of being excited and running and never gets reinforcement for being calm. In effect, they are creating a dependency on humans who need to run in order to feel ok, and if they don’t get to run, they get grumpy.

Well, guardians who rely on running their pups to tire them out, they are literally reinforcing the excitement and the running. 

However, what they need to do in order to calm the puppy down is to reinforce them when they are calm! If they would reinforce their pups when they are doing “nothing” they would soon see their puppy offering calm behavior because it pays off for them and thus becomes a desirable state of being for them.

If more puppy and dog guardians would be aware of that, I would get fewer complaints about “puppy zoomies” or incessant barking or jumping.

My advice:

reward your dog for doing “nothing.” It sounds crazy, but if you think of the fact that a dog who is doing nothing is considered a good dog, then it begins to make sense!

Give it a try, and be amazed.

Elisabeth Weiss is a highly certified, experienced dog trainer in Manhattan, NYC. To learn more about dog training services, contact us by phone at (917) 783-1473 or our contact form.

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