Unwanted DOGGY Behavior: Reduce It

Heyy! I found those treats you buried in the trash can

A new employee-boss scenario

Look at this scenario: You have just arrived at a new job (the first day of course). Then you walk straight into your new desk where you find a computer. Without wasting time, you say, “I know what is expected of me”. Consequently, you press the space bar as a way of waking up the screen.

Then your boss hurriedly strides to your desk, looking very angry. “No!” she shouts.

Then you wonder, what exactly have you done wrong that she didn’t like? Was it wrong to press the space bar? Should you press it again? Was this bad timing? Is she against working on that computer? 

And what should you do now?


Timid boy is holding of the mother on the garden.

The dog-master scenario

A dog encounters this kind of a situation. He/she doesn’t do things that are naturally doggy. Talk of chewing stuff, eating anything he/she finds, peeing on absolutely everything, barking at guests, or even chasing things. And when you catch him/her in the act, you yell “NO NO!”

While this can interrupt the behavior, in the real sense, it does not prevent it from happening in the future. And if your dog feels that the interruption is scary, he might consider hiding the behavior in a dismaying way–say, only doing things like peeing or chewing when nobody is looking.

Pov of Playful Maltese dog chewing a rope

If behavioral science is anything to go by, then reducing the unwanted behavior is the only way you can replace it, and not just suppressing it. In other words, you should teach your dog the best way to get what is reinforcing his behavior—or something he/she likes equally well.

Note: Dog experts advise reducing an unwanted behavior instead of eliminating it because once he forms a life habit, it’s hard to magically erase it. Remember, the habit in question can be overridden by another new habit.

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