Teaching by saying nothing!

Did you know that we can change a dog’s behaviour sometimes by saying nothing? No cues, no food reward, no punishment….

Dog’s do things because it benefits them in some way and how we respond to those behaviours can have an impact and encourage it, even when we are trying to discourage it. You’ve probably heard people say “ignore the bad behaviour and reward the good”. Sounds simple but unless you understand the reward for the dog in each situation you could end up feeling like nothing works!

In this video we show you how our response to Rocky’s behaviour has taught him how to be calm when coming out of the gate. He not only now knows he has to stand still, but he looks up at me and waits for the “let’s go” cue.

Let me explain what we did.

First we need to understand that in this situation, Rocky’s reward is coming out of the gate. So we are teaching him what he needs to do to earn his reward.

When Rocky took a moment of pause we started to open the gate. If he pushed forward, we stopped and waited for him to pause again.

As we began opening the gate, if he tried to push through we would close the gate. By doing this we are showing Rocky that if he pushes forward, the gate gets closed. But if he stands still, the gate gets opened.

Once we could open the gate and Rocky was staying still we gave him the “let’s go” cue to let him know he could come out.

As you can see, it didn’t take long for Rocky to understand. He learned this in less than 2 weeks, with nothing more than us changing our response to his behaviour. Instead of talking to him, pushing him or trying to restrain him, we just stopped and waited.

So next time you are getting frustrated by your dog’s behaviour, stop and think about it from their point of view. What are they getting out of the interaction? Our attention? Still coming through the door?  Then stop and think about how YOU can change YOUR response to their behaviour to get a better behaviour.

This kind of training is teaching the dog to think about their behaviour and what they need to do to get what they want.

We are teaching them to problem solve which also helps them engage with you instead of just acting on impulse.