Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Call for Positive Training Links!

A friend posted this status message on Facebook yesterday:

[My puppy] A-- is now destroying our carpet by digging it up and chewing on the fibres... we tried the no-bite spray and it turns out that she doesn't mind the taste... what should we do??

A quick summary of the comments:
  • Beat her! (obviously meant as a joke)
  • Shake a plastic jar with coins in it
  • Squirt her face with a water bottle
  • Block her off in a non-carpeted area and supervise her when she's on carpet
  • Grab her by the nape of the neck (like her mom would) and say "No!"
  • Blow air in her face
  • Use the coins idea, but say "No, A--!" because dogs like to hear their names associated with their behavior
  • Crate-train her
  • Give her toys with treats in them
  • Scruff her if you catch her in the act and try the brown Listerine
  • Rolled up newspaper (hopefully meant as a joke)

This is the puppy in question. Photo credit: my friend

I am by no means an expert on dog training, but I felt like I should chime in on the positive training side. This was the comment that I left:

We keep our dogs crated when we can't supervise them. When they're out, we shove toys in their faces and pet/praise/treat them when they play with their toys. If they do something undesired (in our case, it's usually fighting or jumping on the couch), we call them over, and if they listen, we make them sit and give them treats. If they do not listen, they get a short time out in their crates. It does seem to have helped them listen to us better.
Puppy Badger before he was banned from the couch

I really hope my friend does not employ the old-school punishment methods with her puppy. I would like to follow up with some links to some positive training methods written by an actual trainer. So far, I have the Dog Star Daily training textbook.

If you know of a good positive-reinforcement training article, please post a link in the comments!
Is there anything else I can do to steer my friend toward positive training methods?


  1. I just wrote a post about positive training & who I like to refer people to. Unfortunately people like to use the 'alpha' way of training which can lead to fear &/or aggression towards you or make the pup not trust you. We always want our dogs to trust us no matter what because they are our children & we want our kids to feel safe in our care (at least that's how i see it). Your answer was perfect! Doing more activities (such as playing with them in the backyard or training them) undesirable behaviors. Or get a dog bone (Trinity gets one practically every week) they cost $5 but it's better than a new rug! Also, you should remind your friend that he's still a baby and need's to be taught appropriate behaviors. He probably gets attention from doing this so giving attention when he's a good boy is probably the best solution.
    I hope this helps your friend out. Good luck!

    1. Thank you! I will share your post with my friend. I'm browsing through some of Zak's videos right now, and the tricks he has taught his dog are amazing.

  2. Hire a trainer! I know one... haha, but really, all of those comments made me wince a lot. I don't have a ton of good written resources, because all the ones I have contain good things but also flaws. The one book I ALWAYS recommend is Jon Katz's "Katz on Dogs", but it's more of a training philosophy than instructions. Either way, I love his dog-owner philosophy (though not his apparent reluctance to like pits).

    1. Thanks for the ideas! I don't know any trainers in her area (Houston, TX), but it could be helpful to remind her of that option. Katz doesn't specifically disparage pits in his book, does he?

  3. Yikes! Those are some mis-informed commenters... You can also suggest redirecting the dog's behavior when she sees him doing something he shouldn't be. That always works for me.

    1. Yes, I was pretty shocked at how outdated some of the methods were. It was a good reminder for me that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of changing how people approach dog training. I can imagine that redirection would work much better than punishment in her scenario.