Training Tips with Todd ~ The basics of dog behaviour

If you could communicate with your dog, what would you say to them?

A substantial amount of behavioural problems that arise in dogs stem from the simple fact that we can’t properly communicate with them. Whilst we as humans rely on social queues and cultural context to guide how we act within society, dogs live life entirely within the present moment. Their behaviour can be understood by the following thought pattern.

Stimulus > Behaviour > Consequence

For example, when you are leaving to go to work your dog sees you preparing to leave (Stimulus).

They run to you and jump up, wiping their dirty paws onto your suit pants (Behaviour).

You scold the dog for making your pants dirty, because now you have to change outfit to go to your business meeting (Consequence).

You can see from this example that there is a clear miscommunication between the owner and the dog. The dog doesn’t understand the context of the suit. They don’t understand that their owner was wearing a suit because they had an important meeting that day. All they know is that on the weekend when they ran and jumped on their owner, they were showered with pats and affection, and they are trying to re-create this positive consequence by repeating the behaviour.

Dogs are brilliant creatures that can think, feel and learn to do amazing things. We just need to properly understand how to effectively communicate with them. It is crucial that we offer them consistent rules and boundaries so that they can clearly and confidently navigate their lives alongside us.

So next time your dog does something that you don’t like, or even something that is only acceptable in certain situations, but not others, consider what it is that they want and help guide them to show the correct behaviour to get them their reward.

Todd is a senior Doggy Daycare attendant at Paddington Pups and is currently completing a Certificate III in Dog behaviour and training. It is one of the highest qualifications that can be gained in Australia in Dog Training. He will be sharing tips and tricks with the Paddington Pups Pack in the newsletter and through our Blog.

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