Getting our puppies to do nothing is hard work, it’s kind of like asking a child to stand still in a toy shop! However it’s an important life skill that will serve our puppies well and knowing how to do this is very worthwhile.
We tend to ignore the times when our puppy is sitting nicely or lying on the rug watching the world go by. Instead we notice all the things they aren’t supposed to do. Things like chewing on our favourite pair of shoes, ripping apart the child’s teddy, or peeing on the kitchen floor. When they are actually being really good and doing nothing we don’t praise them for this. Crazy, isn’t it?
Set them up for success
Whilst it’s hard to remain calm when you discover that your favourite handbag has now been chewed within an inch of its life, you also have to accept that it’s your fault. Yes your fault. Sorry, but if you don’t want your puppy to get hold of something they shouldn’t then it’s up to you to make sure it’s out of their reach. Telling them off for doing something they shouldn’t be doing may actually provide a form of reinforcement for doing it! Any type of attention can be a huge reinforcer for such a social creature.
So how do we get them to do nothing?
As I said before it’s hard work for a puppy to sit still, after all there is so much going on around them that needs their attention. For a puppy everything is exciting and that’s what makes them so cute. That’s why when they do offer this behaviour we act on in and give plenty of praise. If we have set them up for success then it’s hard for them to fail and believe me it will save you a great deal of stress by doing this. Yes you may have to re-arrange your home for a short period of time and use a step ladder to access everything as “it’s out of reach” but it’s worth it in the long run.
What gets rewarded gets repeated so bear this in mind the next time your puppy is being as good as gold! Once they realise that nice things happen when they are being good everything changes!
At all of our classes we have a short periods throughout and especially at the end when we get the puppies/dogs to lie on their beds/mats & do nothing. This gives them the opportunity to wind down from the activities we’ve done in class and go home feeling relaxed. It is such an important skill that we often forget to teach – doing nothing is a behaviour, just like all the others that we should teach our best friend.
Having a dog that can lay on a bed/mat and do nothing will open up a whole new world of activities you can enjoy together. It’s becoming very popular to take our dogs out and about with us, imagine having a dog that you bring to the pub with you? A dog that is comfortable just chilling on his mat whilst you sip on a ice cold beverage? Sounds good doesn’t it?
Here’s Scruffy again and this time he’s busy doing nothing. Sitting at the park taking it all in, laying on the kitchen floor listening to the radio, standing in the park watching the guy on the bike pass by, laying outside in the sun with his toy and last but not least, just relaxing in the living room in front of the fire.
So start now and if your little puppy is sitting in front of you doing nothing, tell them how good they are or even better, give them a treat! Make a habit of doing this and you should see it happen more and more. #learningwithchoice
Rachelle – My Dogs Best Friend