When we go to our clients homes, we have two types of training objectives. One is obedience training and the other is behavior modification. In obedience training, we may teach a dog to follow commands, such as “sit” or “stay”, while behavior modification aims to replace an unwanted behavior with a wanted behavior. Most of our clients need a little of both, but behavior modification tends to be more important, as unwanted behaviors are the number one reason dog owners get rid of their dogs. The most common behavior issues are house-training, jumping, chewing and reactive behaviors, such as lunging at the leash or barking a lot.
Our in-home training is geared toward individual family needs, because what may be unwanted behavior in a dog in one family, may be wanted behavior in another. For example, many people do not want their dogs to jump on them and we can show them how to discourage the dog from jumping and teach him a new wanted behavior which we like to call “Four feet on the ground”. However, we have also trained dogs to jump-up on a person, so the owner can put on the leash more easily. Each situation is different. The beauty is dogs love to learn and want to please, so with the right direction, you can teach a dog almost any behavior.
Dogs learn to do certain behaviors by being rewarded for them and by doing them repeatedly. In order to replace an unwanted behavior such as jumping, it is important to see where the owners may reward the dog for doing this behavior. For example, many dogs get a lot of attention when they jump on people. Attention is one of the most rewarding things we can do for our dogs, because dogs love our attention. So when a dog is getting attention for jumping on a person, he learns to jump and get rewarded. Over time, with repeated incidents of this situation, the dog is being conditioned to jump up on people for attention. In this way, dog owners often times actually teach their pets the behaviors they don’t want.
To stop any unwanted behavior, the handler must re-condition the dog to a new wanted way of acting. So in our example about jumping up for attention, we need to show the dog a behavior that we want him to do, that will get him the attention he wants. We also need to be sure that he does not get what he wants with the unwanted jumping.
Our in-home classes aim to identify unwanted behaviors and teach you how to train your dog into new wanted behaviors.