Training by omission

Posted on June 24th, by Sean O'Shea in Training Tips. Comments Off on Training by omission

What you don’t say “no” to behavior you’re saying “yes”.

If your dog jumps on you or others and you don’t correct it, you’re training jumping. If your dog pulls on-leash and you don’t correct it, you’re training pulling. If your dog explodes on walks at other dogs and you don’t correct it, you’re training reactivity. If your dog growls at you when you sit too close/walk by too closely and you don’t correct it, you’re training possessiveness. If your dog growls when you get too close when food/toys/chews are around and you don’t correct it, you’re training resource guarding. If your dog barks/explodes at every dog that goes by your fence and you don’t correct it, you’re training fence fighting. If your dog bark or whines from the crate and you don’t correct it, you’re training barking and whining. If your dog barks/explodes at people and dogs who walk by the window and you don’t correct it, you’re training territorial silliness.

The truth is, whatever you allow you’re actually training. That might not be your intent. You may yell “No!” or physically interrupt or stop the behavior, but that’s not correcting. That’s interrupting and stopping. That means you’ve stopped it for the moment, but the behavior will almost certainly be there the next time the trigger occurs. But a correction, done right, means you actually diminish the intensity and frequency of the behavior in the future, and that’s a big difference.

The point I want folks to get is, if you allow behavior you’re training behavior. (Ignoring, even though lots of trainers recommend it, is also allowing!) The only way to reduce a problem behavior is to address it and correct it. Make it not “ok”. Ensure there’s actually a consequence – that the dog values. Make that choice uncomfortable and it will start to recede and diminish. Allow it to be practiced without consequence and it will get worse and worse.




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