ClickerSolutions Training Treasures

Discouraging Undesireable Behavior

Hi Wyndee and Maggie!

I remember feeling like that... "Is this what I am supposed to do?"

It is a bit confusing at first but just hang on... the people on this list will give you a lot of support and great ideas :-)

Basically, if Maggie does what you want, you c/t If she does not, you do not correct in the traditional sense...

But if it is something that is unacceptable (such as puppy jumping/nipping) and you want the behavior to stop, then you do use *negative* punishment. That was the missing part for me when I got started. I had two young and nippy Aussies....

If something inappropriate happens... then your stop interacting with the dog. Such as, if the pup jumps on you when you are about to pet her, then you abruptly turn away from the pup and ignore her.

That is punishment in the technical sense because you are trying to eliminate a behavior (jumping) but it is called "negative" because you are taking something away (your attention).

I think the *real key* to all of this is to be sure to set your dog up to *succeed*. If you can get the behavior you want, then you can reward (c/t) and hopefully avoid the situations that require negative punishment. And if you do find yourself using any punishment, quickly rethink the situation and try to see what you can *direct* the dog to do instead.

Another big difference between c/t and compulsion is that you do not want to use "positive" punishment. Examples of this are physical corrections (leash pops etc). It is punishment because you are trying to decrease the "wrong" behavior and it is "positive" because you are "adding" something (the leash pop).

Punishment can have unexpected results... An example: I used negative punishment with Amber a while back... The thing to remember: if you punish one behavior *another behavior will take its place*. Amber was being very "nosey". When she wants someone to pet her, she will very persistently nudge the person's hand with her nose... to the point that it does become a bit obnoxious!

I decided that this really was getting to be a nuisance... so I completely ignored her... She is a smart dog, and she quickly realized that I was not going along with her... I was not petting her as I was "supposed" to... so she offered another behavior... She raked me with her front claws! Ouch!!! That got a reaction! So I realized: If I want to eliminate one behavior, I'd better have another *better* behavior in mind!

It is a lot easier to train the dog to do what you want them to do than it is to train them *not to do* something. Make sense?

Debbie Otero, Kodi and Amber

copyright 1999 Debbie Otero


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