The issue with good or bad behavior is all about the fact that young dogs quickly learn that misbehaving is the very best way to get your attention.
Indeed, many dogs will bark, steal, chew and run away with inappropriate articles simply to get you to respond or at least acknowledge their existence.
Dogs thrive on plenty of attention (and affection), so let’s give it to them when they are good.
One of the most magically powerful training techniques is to ignore all unwanted and inappropriate behavior and instead, to pay attention to and reinforce good behavior’s.
Observe your dog and whenever he does something you like, simply say, “Good dog” and give him a piece of his favourite treat. For example, reward your dog whenever he sits, lies down, stops whining/barking/howling/growling, stops jumping, looks at you, or simply looks adorably cute.
The preferred training technique which demonstrates the quickest way to retrain a learned bad behavior is when your dog is displaying an unwanted behavior, simply reward him when he stops the undesirable behavior.
Waiting for him to stop and reinforcing the cessation of the misbehavior is the training technique of choice when trying to eliminate whining, growling and running away. Punishment is proven to only exacerbate the problem, making the dog more likely to whine, growl and run away.
Similarly, rewarding your dog for the absence of misbehavior is an extremely effective training technique. Sometimes the dog may look like he isn’t doing much. But that’s precisely the point!
The dog may just stand there wagging his tail, but just think of all the annoying and frustrating things he could have been doing. He could have been barking, snarling, snapping, or biting! So, go ahead reward him for not acting fearfully or antisocially.
Or, you could get ahead of the game by deciding to actively reward your dog for any sociable, friendly or appeasing behavior.
When he approaches, wags his tail, wags his butt, sticks out his tongue, raises a paw, bows down in front of you, or rhythmically shifts his weight back and forth from front paw to front paw. Reward him!
Obviously, simply ignoring unwanted behavior will not eliminate it entirely, but you will see a fast and dramatic reduction in the frequency of undesirable behavior because the dog now allocates most of his time to good behaviors.
Why wouldn’t he? He is smart! He knows these good behaviors bring rewards and that is what drives him. Anytime his actions solicit your attention and affection, and he is rewarded, the less time there is for bad behavior.
After a couple of dozen rewards, you will find that your dog is sitting and looking up at you — a perfect sit-stay in perfect unwavering attention. You won’t even need ask for a thing. He has learned the behavior to gain what he wants – his favourite treat! All you need say is “Good boy!”
When using the words “good” and “bad” to describe dog behavior it is highly unlikely that dogs have any solid cognitive grasp on ethics and morality, or even about the concepts of good and bad.
Dogs behave (chew, bark, growl, pull on leash, run away etc.) the way they do simply because that’s the way dogs behave and they do this because that’s the way owners have trained or allowed them to behave.
The meaning of “good” behavior, is behavior owners consider to be desirable, appropriate or acceptable and by “bad” behavior, is what owners consider to be undesirable, inappropriate or unacceptable.
However, it is universally accepted that good dog behavior brings rewards for both dog and owner.