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It seems like when you hear people talk about animal behavior, it's all about what happens when the animal does something right, or what happens when the animal is correct. We all know that when the animal does something right, he normally gets a reward. But what about when the animal does something wrong or develops bad behaviors? In addition, it seems like more times than not, when pet owners first get their dog, they find their dog doing more things wrong than right. How a new pet owner responds to a an animal doing something incorrectly, or developing a bad behavior, can have a huge impact on his or her relationship their pet.
Remember that a bad behavior is just something that an animal has developed over time. If an owner has been unaware of it, the behavior can now escalate and grow into something that happens a few times a week, or even every day. And of course, the longer the animal has had the problem, the more difficult it is to correct. This is why I always tell new pet owners especially to be aware of minor behavior problems with their dog early on, so they can catch them before they have a chance to develop into major behavioral problems. The biggest reason that most people have major behavioral problems with their dog is that they were not aware that they had a minor behavior problem early on. It always seems like, if they had been aware of the problem as it began to develop, it would have been a lot easier to correct and eliminate.
The solution is to get to know your dog and be aware. It's amazing the behavior problems you can catch early!
Don't forget that the completion of a bad behavior is in itself a reward. Think about it:
How about a dog that relieves himself in the house? Why did he do it? Because it made him feel good. Was that reinforcing to him? Absolutely! Then the completion of that behavior was in itself a reward.
How about a dog that likes to jump on guests? Why did he do it? Because he wanted to be closer to the guest. Did he complete the bad behavior by putting his feet up? Yes. Do you think it made him feel good? It probably did. Then the dog was rewarded for the completion of the bad behavior.
Remember that in dealing with almost any bad behavior, a dog getting the opportunity to complete the bad behavior is in itself a reward to the dog. The way you deal with this is by not giving the animal the chance to begin the chain of events, and put them into play.
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