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Don’t Reward Bad Behavior.

As a kid my family had indoor/outdoors cats. Every cat we had over the years scratched the door trim when they wanted to go outside. This behavior was not appreciated, particularly by my parents. Consequently, the ‘going out routine’ ended up being a cat scratching the door, someone yelling ‘No! Stop!’, the door opening and the cat going out. The cats learned that nothing grabbed attention and got the door opened quite as fast as scratching. Similarly, one cat named Tyrone found an effective way of being let in the house. Tyrone would climb up the screen door Spider-Man style, making it nearly impossible for anyone in the living room or kitchen to ignore him. Again he garnered the ‘No! Down!’ reprimand followed by an open door.

In this case the cats trained the people instead of the people training the cats. A basic in pet training is not to reward bad behavior. This can consist of giving attention to a badly behaving puppy, or giving a treat when a pet is begging. Being consistent is vital. Don’t make things complicated. Keep training simple. If you find yourself explaining yourself or rationalizing with your puppy then training is too complicated. Particularly when teaching basic good behavior such as don’t scratch the couch, climb the curtains, or chew the sneakers, make the consequences clear. For cats a squirt from a toy water gun will often deter them from bad behavior. For dogs reprimand them and then leave them be, don’t give them extra attention as they may see it as a reward. Finally, don’t punish an animal after the fact. If you find a your rug chewed up a your puppy sleeping in the corner, he’s not going understand what you’re yelling about and could think you’re mad at him for sleeping in the corner. Reprimands are only effective if a pet is caught in the act, and being stern is far more effective than being angry.



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