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Tips for a Better Behaved Dog, Apply Affection Strategically

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Want a Better Behaved Dog? Apply Affection Strategically.

By Terie Hansen

We all love to shower our dogs with attention, love, praise and most of the time for no other reason than they are cute. But many times, too much affection and not enough structure is hurting your dog.  It can create a bratty, ill behaved, entitled, nervous, even aggressive dog. As a trainer I’ve worked with many families who’s dogs have gotten to the point where the family just can’t stand the bad behaviors any longer. The answer to a better behaved dog is structure discipline, boundaries and using affection strategically and dare I say, sparingly.

Think of your affection, verbal praise, physical touch, eye contact and any kind of rewards such as food, treats, toys, playtime (anything that gives your dog pleasure) as currency. Think $100 bills!

Now, let me ask you a question… Do you work for free?

Do you go to your job everyday without expecting to get paid? Of course not! If you went to work every day but just sat around doing nothing, and throughout the day people gave you $100 bills, just because you were there, that would be pretty great, right? After a while you’d come to expect it. Then let’s just suppose they asked you to do something, LIKE WORK. You wouldn’t be motivated at all to do as they asked if you knew you would get paid regardless. You might even start to feel entitled and get angry at times if things weren’t just how you wanted them to be.

Now insert your dog into that scenario. Get the picture? Applying affection strategically raises its value and motivates your dog to listen to you!

So I challenge you to play hard to get! Make your dog do something before petting or rewarding them. It can be as simple as a sit or shake! This also engages your dog in the thinking process which is wildly fulfilling for your dog!


Terie Hansen is the Owner of Good Dog! Coaching & Pet Care. Visit for more information.

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