How to Reward Calm Behavior

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Most of us never consider rewarding our dogs when they are calm, but did you know that by not rewarding calm behavior you may be missing an important training opportunity? Behavior that is rewarded is likely to be repeated, so by rewarding your dog when he is calm encourages more calm behavior! So what’s the best way to reward your dog when he is calm? Nan Arthur, Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner (CTP) offers the following tips from her popular book, Chill Out Fido! How to Calm Your Dog:

calm dog lying down

“Dogs continually offer calm behaviors, but unfortunately, they are often ignored (this happens to children also)! This can lead them to believe that calm behaviors are not worth much. Dogs can and do learn calm behaviors as quickly as they learn the wild and unwanted ones, so show your dog what you would like him to do by rewarding the behaviors you like. You can simply smile and say, “Good dog,” in a quiet voice, or you can walk by and drop a treat at his feet, or you can do a combination of both. (Get in the habit of carrying a few treats with you, or have treats stashed around the house so you don’t miss opportunities to reward your dog.)

When you use praise to acknowledge your dog’s calmness, make sure your voice is calm and soft, say it only once, and resist making eye contact so your dog will not feel obligated to engage. This will really help him get the message that all he has to do to get your attention or a food reward is kick back and relax!”

great advice

I find that most clients really forget to appreciate the calm behavior their dogs offer. They accept it as "good" or they do not even notice the dog! It seems counter intuitive to them to praise when all is good. Must have something to do with the way they were raised themselves:) Thank you for posting this.