Dogs 101: Dogs repeat behaviors that get them what they want.

Your dog wants food, toys, playtime, access to the outside, walks and attention.  He knows that you control these things, but he isn’t sure how to get them.  Finally, he figures out that if he does a certain thing in response to a training cue, he gets a treat.  Or if he sits, instead of jumping, he gets attention.   Dogs are good at watching our every move to see what it means for them.  That’s why positive reinforcement training works: Dogs will work for rewards, whether it’s food, a favorite toy, playtime with you, or an opened door. The flip side, however, is that you can easily reinforce behaviors that you don’t want. Back to jumping: If your dog jumps on you to get your attention and you talk to, look at or interact with your dog in any way, you have just reinforced his jumping and he will do it again next time.

Next up: We try to change behaviors that are natural to dogs.