How Saying "NO" to Any Problem Behavior is Making IT Worse!
A lot of our training starts with one simple change in the HUMAN'S behavior:
"Stop correcting and saying no to your dog."
"Why?" you ask? In this article, I'll be addressing how these corrections are a detriment to your dog (and yourself). Side note: this includes putting an end to using physical touch or any other verbal correction.
Dogs of any age are naturally drawn to prey-like energy (they are predators, hunters, and scavengers). Let's imagine Sparky gets excited outside, he tries to jump up and make contact with his owner. The owner says "no" and knees the dog in the chest to correct him, pushes him down to the ground, raises their voice, or kicks the dog every time he jumps up. Sure, maybe that settles the immediate issue at hand, but what's happening on Sparky's end of the leash?
We've talked about how dogs are emotional beings, they have prey drive (and a lot of it) in their DNA, and they are naturally social creatures. With those three points we can say 3 things:
1. Dogs feel physical urges when over-threshold, anxious, excited, or really attracted to something to return to a neutral feel-good state.
2. Dogs are attracted to other creatures and aspects of their environment because of prey drive. It's how they survive and complete the "hunt".
3. Hunting, movement, expression, and contact are social. Sparky yearns to be social and you, the owner, are the answer to that call.
Over-correcting and saying no to the expression of energy is making your dog feel frustrated. In this scenario, correcting Sparky from jumping up on you makes his drive to make contact stronger. The dog is frustrated because his desire to make contact is suppressed instead of expressed and that energy may come out through undesirable avenues: dog aggression, destructive behavior, hand sensitivity, or fear based aggression to name a few. It's all interconnected.
Let's touch on jumping up and making contact with the owner.
No one wants an overstimulated dog jumping up at their face, but if a dog is taught how to make contact appropriately with the owner, whenever they feel that urge they will look to the owner for the solution. The dog will satisfy its desire to be social by appropriately making contact with the owner.
If you're wondering how to begin doing this, go to this article and check out the video at the bottom of the page. If a dog is always corrected when it jumps, it'll either jump more, have minimal attraction to the owner (goodbye, recall), or feel so suppressed with that drive to make contact it will come out as aggression.
Set your dog up for success and make your life easier! Dog likes to chew? Teach them how to bite (hard) and carry a heavy toy on their walk. Dog is reactive to other dogs? Bring the attraction to you! Dog likes to counter surf or couch surf? Back-tie them in the house with a cozy bed they can nest in. Dog barks at all hours of the day? Get an enclosed crate so it's dark and cave-like so they can give their nervous system a rest.
Resist the urge to correct and instead help them to emotionally stay calm, cool, and collected. Save your "NO!" for a true emergency when a wire is sparking in the home and they go to sniff it. Good luck... and be aware of how much you're correcting your dog. It may be more than you think!