Chewing

Chewing

Once you understand the training process you’ll see that dog training is all about consequences. There are two types of consequences – Positive and Negative.

When you are training your dog you need to understand when to apply a positive consequence and when to apply a negative consequence. The big problem that a lot of dog owners make with behavior problems is that they apply a negative consequence long after the behavior has occurred.

A typical behavior problem that I see a lot is chewing and destructive behavior. Chewing often happens when the dog is left alone while the owner is at work. The dog chews an item that is important to the owner. A shoe, the sofa, the TV remote etc.

The owner comes home and finds the item that has been chewed. Out of anger and frustration, the owner punishes the dog. A negative consequence is applied but the problem is the timing.

You see, a consequence needs to be applied within a second or two of the behavior. If you gave your dog the command “Sit,” walked away and came back ten minutes later to give your dog a treat do you think your dog would understand that they were getting the treat for the sit command that they did ten minutes ago?

No.

The same happens when you punish a dog. If you are going to apply a negative consequence it is extremely important that your timing is excellent. If your timing is not that good when you are applying a positive consequence like giving a treat it is no big deal. There are no major side effects when you are using positive consequences.

With a negative consequence your dog can become very confused and the behavior you’re are trying to fix may become much worse. If your dog chewed your shoes at 1:00PM and you come home at 3:00PM the behavior occurred long ago.

If you punish your dog long after the behavior occurred, your dog will get confused and here’s the rub…

Your dog will start to associate getting punished with you coming home. You see where the side effects of
punishment can backfire. Your dog associates the punishment with homecomings, not with chewing the shoes.

AND…

The behavior can get worse because every time you leave the house your dog will think that when you come home she is going to get punished. So every time you leave the house your dog gets stressed.

Guess how dogs deal with stress?

You guessed it – CHEWING!

See how our mistakes can make the behavior worse.