Harley sez: "Quiet puppies get noms!"
...So, you remember the movie A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, about women's baseball in the 1940s? Tom Hanks plays team manager Jimmy Dugan. And when one of his players gets upset and teary-eyed, he growls at her, "There's no crying in baseball!"
I just completed another in my continuing series of 7-week puppy kindergarten classes. And I hope this group (and all my clients) not only learned what they should do to teach their puppies, but also noticed something I never do: There's no yelling in dog training.
It's simply not necessary, and also not effective. When we yell at our noisy dog to "Shut up and stop barking!" she just thinks we're joining in the barking. Or she thinks we're crazy. What she doesn't think is, "Ooo! I should be quiet!"
The first week of this most recent class, a big, happy 4-month old Rottweiler pup named Harley started barking excitedly at the other puppies from the moment they walked into the room. Here's what I didn't do: yell at Harley. Here's what I did do: I moved closer to him, had my clicker ready, went on talking to the class over Harley's noise -- and the instant he stopped barking for a breath, I clicked him and gave him a treat while I said "Good quiet!" The look of delighted surprise on his face was priceless.
Within ten minutes, Harley understood that he got click-treats for being calm and quiet -- and got nothing for being noisy. (And clicker training was new for him, but he got the connection in the first few minutes and within ten repetitions.) For the rest of the hour, Harley remained quiet, watching me closely -- and I'd randomly go to him (now requiring him to sit for his rewards) and click-treat him for being "Good quiet!"
With a little help from me, Harley figured out for himself how to get the nice human teacher to give him what he wanted -- lots of tasty noms! -- and I got what I wanted: a big puppy who was happy to be quiet in class.
If you find yourself yelling at your dog -- for anything -- stop. Then start over, with quiet patience, and reward good behavior instead of trying to shout down bad behavior. It really works -- just ask Harley!
Howard Weinstein started Day One Dog Training in Howard County, Maryland in 1998. You can reach him through http://dayonedogtraining.com. He's also the author of Puppy Kisses are Good for the Soul & Other Important Lessons You & Your Dog Can Teach Each Other (available in both paperback and e-book at Amazon.com -- http://tinyurl.com/9rah6kg --