You’ve made it through puppy training, obedience and your dog might even have a few tricks down pat. Your dog might have even graduated at the top of his class, but sometimes over the years, bad habits slip back in.
It’s easy let things slide and not address the behavior issues that have developed. But bad habits often escalate into more bad habits and pretty soon they can get out of control. Sometimes, we even encourage the bad habits without realizing it, or we might know that we are encouraging bad habits, but don’t know another way to get the end result that we want.
For example, you might use luring with a treat to get your dog to do something you want. But luring only gets you so far. It’s not actually encouraging your dog to perform or offer something to you for a behavior, but rather you are manipulating him. He might go through the motions to get the treat, but what if you could train him to offer the behavior on his own and then he gets rewarded? Wouldn’t that be better? Think about it, would you rather be lured into something or rewarded?
Some bad behaviors need to be corrected with redirection. Let’s say your dog developed a habit of scratching on something. Instead of punishing for the behavior, like a squirt from a water bottle, you can redirect and engage him in something like a new trick that you teach him, and then offer a reward after. Learning new tricks is fun for both of you! Then you will have a new ‘go-to’ to pull from and not have to lure, but rather redirect the behavior to a fun new trick and then reward after. You want to make sure plenty of time passes after redirecting so he knows he’s not getting a reward for the misappropriate behavior. Doing a trick will help with that.
As both we and our dogs get older, and have spent lots of time and years together, it’s easy to get lazy and let routines develop that let behavior issues slide. Your dog is never too old to get rewards for good behavior and you are never too old to learn how to direct him. A training class or three or five can really help. Private training could be just the answer for you. Now is always the right time to keep learning!