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Stop, Watch, Wait, Reward

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Our dogs train us because they have better observation skills and more patience. They can tell by our body language when we are about to give in!

To turn the tables and begin training your dog to give up an undesired behavior, follow these general guidelines: STOP, WATCH, WAIT, REWARD.

For example, if your dog jumps or barks when you enter your home:

  1. STOP: Stand perfectly still and be absolutely silent.
  2. WATCH: Observe your dog out of the corner of your eye and watch for a behavior you want to reinforce.
  3. WAIT: Wait, wait, wait for a desired behavior, such as a sit or even just eye contact with four-on-the-floor.
  4. REWARD: Mark (click) the desired behavior, and then toss a treat. Proceed into the house.

After just a few times, your dog will begin to offer the desired behaviors more quickly upon your arrival at home. Continue to reinforce desired behavior every time you enter your home. I find it helpful to keep a clicker and a jar of dry treats, such as BRAVO! Training Treats Trail Mix, near the door.

KPA Training Tips of the Day are brought to you by Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partners. You can find more articles, ideas, and inspiration to help you train better and enjoy a lifelong bond with your dog on our website.

About the author

Through her business The Positive Quarter, LLC, Dr. Caryn Self-Sullivan, KPA CTP, offers TAGteaching and clicker training services to achieve a variety of needs and goals. Her focus is on success-based learning to train skills and modify behavior. With interests and pastimes that include college teaching (environmental education, animal behavior, conservation biology, marine mammalogy), global research travel, and fundraising for environmental outreach events, Dr. Caryn is a Renaissance woman with a purely positive outlook.