5 Ways to Encourage Positive Behavior in Your Dog

We all love our four-legged pals, but dogs are not always a source of perpetual joy. As they grow, they gain their unique personalities, and some can become a handful. There are times when the dog will need to be disciplined so that he can learn that his misbehavior is not approved by the owner. The key to promote positive behavior in your dog is to train them when they are young and encourage positive behavior. Dogs are eager to please their people and when they sense that the master is happy with their behavior, they are more likely to repeat the behaviors that caused the happiness.

By practicing positive reinforcement, you educate your dog about the behaviors that are acceptable. There are multiple methods in reinforcing positive behavior, ideally applied when the dog is still a young pup. This will help him grow up into a generally behaved member of your family. 

 Here are five ways to promote constructive discipline and encourage positive behavior in your dog:

Recognition of Positive Behavior

A dog will take his cues from the messages he receives. Sure, an intimidating yell might frighten the dog into doing what you want, but the effects of such discipline tend to be largely ineffective in the longer term, not to mention they cause stress and trauma for the pup.

Much like humans enjoy being complimented or told that they did a good job at something, dogs need to hear that their good behavior does not go unnoticed. When a dog does what you ask of him and obeys your instructions, always recognize that behavior with a reward. It could be with treats, but it doesn’t always need to be. A loving petting or some kind, encouraging words mean the world to a dog. The dog is eager to please you, so hearing that he is a good dog will make him want to elicit the right behavior again to get more approval.

Have Patience and Express Forgiveness

Dogs feed off your emotions and intuitively understand what you are conveying through your reaction. When a dog does something wrong, it is most likely unintentional. The dog may still be learning and trying to gauge what is right and wrong. Just as humans learn by making mistakes, a dog learns from his mistakes if the behavior is not approved of.

When our emotions overtake us, and we lash out at the dog in anger for messing up, resorting to punishment and raised voices, it goes much further in traumatizing the dog than encouraging him to change his behavior. Being patient and forgiving is a much better method. Showing a dog that he has been forgiven after doing something wrong, even if it's in the form of a loving hug or a pet, shows a dog that even if he messed up, he is still loved, and with such a loving owner, he will try harder to please in the future.

Exercise

Many dogs begin to misbehave because they have a lot of energy reserved that they need to expand. The best way for a dog to get the overabundance of energy out is to allow him to exercise to get it out. This exercise can be in the form of games, a free run around in the yard, or even going for a walk.

At times the overabundance of energy makes it hard for a dog to truly focus on good behavior to please their master. Once the energy is depleted, the dog can be more attentive to the owner’s instructions and will be more mentally alert to doing the right thing.

Engaging in Games

Speaking of mental alertness, while we may all think that our dogs are brilliant, they need to be encouraged and developed to be smart, as it's certainly not automatic. Training your dog, especially from a young age in the art of obedience is an essential in helping them understand expected and acceptable behaviors. But this training does not need to stop after they are no longer a brand-new puppy.

Engaging your dog in challenging games, like progressively more challenging obstacle courses or seeking out treats hidden around the house, promotes better brain development and ultimately a more intelligent and alert dog. A more intelligent and understanding dog is more likely to learn appropriate behaviors more quickly which helps to achieve a quicker understanding of desired behavior.

Spending Time Together

The ultimate secret to promoting positive behavior with your dog is to spend time together and to build the relationship. Dogs left alone by their owners suffer a lot of trauma because, especially when they are young, they do not grasp the concept of temporary absence. Many dogs who have owners that leave them alone for the day while they go off to work do not understand that the owner will come back eventually. They may feel abandoned or neglected, and therefore begin to act out.

This is particularly evident with dogs who are cooped up in smaller apartments for hours at a time. They are more prone to misbehavior as they begin to act out, succumbing to their emotions due to perceived neglect. Dogs are not called man’s best friend for no reason. They want, and need to be with their people. When a dog feels loved and cared for, they are much more likely to reciprocate the feelings.

Building the trust and closeness is essential in forging the bond necessary for a dog to want to please you and is arguably the best way to promote positive behavior. The bonding of human and dog is the key to encouraging the dog to behave positively as much as possible.

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