4. Good Boy U! Positive Reinforcement Works
Back in the 70’s the dog training books promoted “rubbing your puppy’s nose in the wet spot to train them not to do it again!”….or, “punish them by swatting with a rolled up newspaper..”.
In other words, dogs were to be punished for having accidents in the house or not hitting the right paper at the right time!
It was all about negative reinforcement. Unfortunately, many times this only made the dogs afraid of people and they would cringe, hide or….pee some more!
This became a habit and soon when it thundered, the dog peed. If it heard a newspaper being
crunched, it peed. Instead of this being positive training, it turned into negative training. And that was all due to the owner’s mishandling of the puppy’s housebreaking. So, let’s look at how positive reinforcement through praise, works wonders!
Praise Always Works
Thank goodness people finally realized that hitting the dog or rubbing it’s nose in the wet spot just doesn’t work. As more people started working with dogs, and vets become more knowledgeable about training, it was recommended to use patience, love….and praise!
Positive reinforcement: that works. Why put your puppy’s nose in a wet spot that may have happened a few hours, or even minutes, ago…and which he won’t remember doing! Not only will that scare him, but it will confuse him as he won’t remember peeing in that spot.
But if you happen to see the puppy pee, show him the spot…don’t rub his nose in it!...and say “no” firmly but nicely. The next time you see him pee on papers or piddle pad, or outside, then say “good boy!” he’ll quickly associate what he did as being good…and he got praise for it!
When to Say “GOOD BOY!”
Whenever your puppy urinates or defecates outside, during a walk or on the newspaper or piddle pad you’ve set out for him…say GOOD BOY! Rub his head, hug him…and give him a treat. Puppy’s are smart, and will quickly associate the action with GOOD BOY! and the GOOD BOY! with a treat!
If he has an accident, but you catch him during the act…say firmly but nicely “no” and then put him outside or on the papers. When he finishes, then you say GOOD BOY! Again, the action is you have shown him that the one area is wrong, and the other area (outside, paper etc) is right…and you’ve praised him for it when he finishes on the right spot!
They Understand What You Say
Although it’s not praise, as you housebreak your puppy, you’ll start to teach him different phrases. Which, when he learns them, he will be eager to go out or for a walk and then “go to the bathroom” which is what you want him to do.
Phrases you need to teach your puppy are:
• “Let’s go outside!”
• “Let’s go for a walk!”
• “Let’s go to bed!”
• “Let’s go for a ride!”
See the pattern? They all begin with “Let’s…”. It’s an invitation to both your puppy and you, the owner, to interact. Soon all you’ll need to say is “Let’s…” and he’ll be running to the door or his crate!
It’s Not Just Words - Praise isn’t just words. It’s actions.
If he does good, your puppy will tell by your facial expressions and actions if you’re happy. Be excited when he does good, and rub his head and hug him. His mother used to “praise” him for urinating by bathing him…that wasn’t just to keep him clean!
And if he has an accident, don’t get upset! Keep calm and let him know he’s not going to be punished. And when he goes outside, then you praise him! He’ll tell by your face and actions you’re happy…and he’s done good!
Other Ways to Say Good Boy!
- There are other ways to say GOOD BOY.
- Not only say “GOOD BOY!” but give him a favorite treat!
- Take him for a short walk after he’s relieved himself while on the leash
- Get his favorite toss toy or tug toy out and have a 10-minute playtime outside
- Give him a loving hug, or snuggle up together on the sofa and watch a movie!
It’s All About Association
Don’t forget that. Puppies will associate your words and actions with you either being “happy” or “mad”. And what you say and how you say it, will affect how they react. If you tell him “GOOD BOY!” in a friendly pitch, he’ll be happy and wagging his tail! But if you tell him “no” sternly, he’ll know that’s not a word of praise.
And puppies quickly learn the association with going out, as positive. And he’ll get a treat! Positive reinforcement. Association should always be with positive reinforcement. If you do that, your puppy’s housebreaking will be very successful and quick!