How “Take your attention away” works…
The tip I’m going to give you today is kind of similar to the last tip. It has to do with how we, as owners, relate to our puppy.
In the last tip I talked about how we can give our vocal commands in ways that our puppies see us as the pack leader. Today I’ll be showing you how your body language can be used to get your puppy to understand acceptable behavior from unacceptable behaviors.
We all have things that our puppy does that we don’t like or are “unacceptable behaviors.” A couple of behaviors that this technique works very well with are jumping up on us or others and mouthing and chewing our hands and arms.
When I first got one of my puppies she was just a terror for playing rough with my arms and hands. I felt like a pincushion! I had little pin holes from her sharp little puppy teeth all up and down my arms. It got so that it wasn’t even fun to play with her. Then I started to use a body language technique that worked quite well for me and I’m betting it’ll work for you too!
So here it is:
When your puppy does what you don’t want (an unacceptable behavior) take your attention away from him.
Ok, so what does that look like?
When my puppy would start to elevate her play to the point of nipping me I would simply stand up and turn my back to her and not look at her for a few seconds. No words, no reprimands, no attention to her, nothing. Stand up straight…you can fold your arms up and out of the way, turn your back and stop – doing – anything…for a few seconds or so. What this tells your puppy is, “when I do this (nipping too hard, jumping up, etc.) this is what happens…the fun stops!” Your puppy will learn pretty quick that certain behaviors lead to “the fun stops.”
In all honesty, it will take some time, and more than just a couple of “stops”, for your puppy to understand the relationship involved. However, once your new puppy understands that relationship, the same method will work in other situations.
Ok, so let’s say your puppy usually jumps up on you to greet you. In a case like that, you will need to decide what the “correct” behavior is that you want your puppy to display. Let’s say you want your puppy to sit to greet you and others. When you are to be greeted by your puppy you will say “Buddy, Sit!” as soon as the puppy starts to get near you. Then reinforce, with whatever method of training you are using (I use treats for the first while, you can also use a clicker/treat combination or a toy), and if the puppy jumps up instead of sitting, simply don’t give ANY attention to your puppy. Stand up, fold your arms, and take your eyes and attention away from the puppy for a few seconds. When the puppy has stopped jumping up on you and all four feet are on the ground, you can again turn your attention to your pup and give the puppy the “sit” command. When the puppy sits, give enthusiastic praise, petting and treats (if you are using them).
Again, you will have to do this a few times before a very young puppy will get it. If you set your puppy up for a short training session in which you encourage her to jump up by using a little rough housing and excitement, and then use this technique, it will accelerate the learning process.
Keep any training sessions short and always end on a positive note. End with something that the puppy already knows and does well so she can feel good about learning new things…make it FUN!
This is a technique that works well in a few different situations. You can probably come up with some situations that are specific to you and your puppy that this will work on. Give it a try…I am confident that you will have pretty quick results if you are consistent and persistent!
I hope this tip helps you on your way to having the relationship you dream about having with your new puppy.
If you are interested in learning more about this type of training methods right away, you can check out Chet Womach’s “Hands Off” training system.
I use a lot of his training methods and I’ve got to tell you, it works!
Have a great week.