- Behavior Problems
- Get Help Here
August 6th, 2014
By Eric Letendre
Got a question yesterday.
“Eric, everyone talks about positive reinforcement. Reward the dog for doing obedience, catch your dog doing something right. Focus on what your dog does good and try to not focus on the bad behavior. That is all good but what do I do if my dog jumps or steals food off the counter?”
Great question and this often confuses people.
Your training is NOT just about all about rewards. There are positive AND negative consequences.
You use a positive consequence when you want your dog to do something you want – sit, down, stay, come, etc.
You apply a negative consequence when you want to STOP a behavior.
The problem is that many trainers think a negative consequence should never be used. On YouTube I get my most negative comments when I talk about this.
I understand why. Like a lot of dog trainers, when I started I was taught how to train dogs using brutal and harsh techniques.
I got my start working with security dogs. I used to work in one of the worst neighborhoods in Hartford, CT and the dogs were successfully used as deterrents.
The trainers were extremely harsh and this is how I was taught.
And like a lot of trainers, I found positive training techniques through great trainers like Dr. Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Patricia McConnell and more.
Once we saw the error in our ways, we wanted to try and do as much positive training as possible. Like many, I tossed my choke and prong collars in the trash and learned how to train without them.
For a long time I tried to train without ever doing anything negative, but over the years, I’ve learned that it is okay to use negative consequences when you follow certain steps.
So to get back to your original question, you use negative consequences when you want to stop a behavior like jumping or stealing food off the counter. The negative consequences do not hurt or harm the dog and most importantly…..
…..the negative consequence should NOT be associated with you.
I know it all seems a little confusing which is why I developed The Good K9 Manners Program with step by step videos showing you how to do this.
You can watch how to stop jumping, stealing, begging, barking and more.
It’s all right here:
Use code GK9M50 at check out to get half off.
October 28th, 2013
By Eric Letendre
You all know that I am a HUGE Patriots fan.
I know this will rile up a few readers but Tom Brady is awesome.
Before you trash me and this email, listen for a moment.
The best time to listen to Tom Brady is after he LOST a game.
He doesn’t blame the ref, his team mates, the coach, the weather or anything else.
He takes full responsibility.
Very admirable – especially in today’s society where everyone is quick to blame everything and anyone for their problems.
Funny thing, most people come to me with their dogs focused only on the dog’s problems.
My dog jumps, chews, pees on the carpet, bites, fill in the blank. The key to solving any problem is to stay focused on the solution.
Not fake, false optimism. Develop a plan to solve the problem and then get busy.
As a loyal reader of this highly entertaining, action packed, fun filled daily newsletter, I am going to share the plan for solving any behavior problem your dog may have.
All you need to remember is M.U.T.T.
I developed the M.U.T.T. Method as a simple plan anyone can follow to stay focused on the solution.
Here’s how it works:
M – Manage. The first step is to manage the behavior. A dog that is showing aggression towards other dogs would have to be managed. Zero access or a leash and possibly a muzzle if the dog is going to be around other dogs.
This will NOT solve the problem but it will help manage it.
U – Underlying. What is the underlying reason for the behavior? Every behavior has a reason. The aggressive dog above may have been attacked by another dog, the dog may be undersocialized, etc.
Once we know the underlying reason we can start helping the dog.
T – Train. Train a new behavior. This is where you may need some help.
T – Time. Training new behaviors will take some time. You need to remember this when it seems like you are not getting results. Give it some time.
So the next time you’re faced with a behavior problem use the M.U.T.T. Method to get to the solution.
I cover the M.U.T.T. Method in more detail on the Good K9 Manners site. If you need more help with jumping, chewing, stealing or any other behavior problem head on over to:
October 10th, 2013
By Eric Letendre
“You know I was talking to my friend Desdemona the other day she runs this space station and bake shop down near boomtown. She told me that human beings are flawed individuals. The cosmic bakers took us out of the oven a little too early. And that’s the reason were as crazy as we are and I believe it.”
That’s from my favorite Jimmy Buffett song, Fruitcakes.
Yesterday I took some heat about my thoughts on the dog training world.
I talked about how certain people in the dog training world literally go out of their minds if you ever talk about using negative consequences in dog training.
I do get where they are coming from. Dog training for many years was brutal and extremely harsh and even cruel to dogs.
Some dog trainers still use outdated, harsh methods and try to “dominate” the dog.
I get it because Human Beings Are Flawed Individuals – including me.
I make mistakes when it comes to training (not many, hehe!)
The problem with using negative methods is that it has side effects. If you have a shock collar on your dog and your timing is wrong, your dog is going to get confused. If the stimulation from the collar is high it could negatively affect the dog.
A prong collar overused in a group obedience class will almost always result in dog aggression.
So we do have to be EXTREMELY careful when using any form of negative consequence.
BUT – it does NOT mean that we can never use any form of negative in training.
Here is a simple formula to remember. If you want your dog to learn something: sit, down, come, stay, etc. use positive consequences. Loads and loads of positive consequences.
If you want your dog to STOP doing a behavior, learn how to associate the behavior with a negative consequence but this does come with one MAJOR caveat:
The negative consequence should not be associated with you. It should be associated with the behavior.
Positive consequences should be associated with you. All good stuff comes from you which will build trust and confidence and your dog will do great with obedience.
All negative consequences should be associated with the behavior.
I show many different ways on how this can be done on The Good K9 Manners Course. If you want your dog to STOP jumping, barking, chewing and more head on over here NEXT:
September 13th, 2012
By Eric Letendre
I LOVE football.
And Sunday was a great day to watch football. The Patriots looked fantastic and The Giants lost on Wednesday night – all is right with the world again (for now).
Sports are a funny thing. I know a lot of guys that have rituals and do funny things before, during and after a sports event.
My brother actually made his wife leave the room during a Red Sox play-off game because they started to lose when she walked in.
This is called Superstitious Behavior.
It is EXTREMELY common in with we humans and dogs also definitely develop superstitious behavior.
Look at all the superstitious behaviors we develop. Crossing our fingers, not walking under ladders, being very careful with mirrors, avoiding black cats, the list goes on and on.
Dogs and other animals develop superstitious behaviors when they are inadvertently reinforced for a certain behavior.
I once worked with a dog that would raise his paw before doing the sit command. When the owner was teaching the dog to sit, he raised his paw first and then sat. This became part of the command for the dog.
It also works the other way. I have also worked with a dog that was afraid to drink from his water bowl. The dog was about to drink when someone in the house had accidently stepped on his tail.
It all has to do with associations and timing.
When training a dog, it is very easy to make accidental associations and the way to overcome it is to get good with your timing.
One of the best ways to improve your timing and your training is by using a clicker.
Clickers will improve your timing better than anything else you can do. The problem with clickers is that many dog owners are confused by them.
Once you start using a clicker you’ll be amazed with how fast your dog learns.
All the best,
P.S. I look at clickers as a another “tool” to use when you are training your dog. Some people love using them and others are confused by them. It’s the reason I break down exactly how to use them in The Dog Training Inner Circle.
You can learn how to use them here:
August 27th, 2012
By Eric Letendre
Today I decided to do a little Q & A.
I get sometimes get between 300 and 500 emails a day so it is impossible to answer them all.
Here’s a question I recently got:
“MY dog loves to beg and it has become embarrassing whenever I have guests over for dinner. I love to entertain but I haven’t recently because my dog will paw, whine and beg for food when we sit at the table. Can this be stopped?”
My answer: YES! This is a very easy behavior to stop and I am going to share with you how it is done.
Two things need to happen:
1. Everyone in the house has to be consistent. Dogs usually learn to beg from one or two people that feed from the table.
2. Turn the consequences around.
Let’s begin – Instruct family and guests that no one is to feed the dog from the table. You can’t get mad at a dog that is being rewarded for begging. This is a learned behavior and in order for it to stop, everyone has to agree to stop feeding from the table.
Next – dogs learn to beg because it is a POSITIVE consequence. They beg and someone hands them a yummy piece of chicken or steak. Dogs beg because it works.
The next time the dog begs, the food being handed to the dog should NOT be tasty. It should be something the dog really dislikes.
Think about it from the dog’s point of view. Imagine you’re the dog and someone hands you a tasty morsel from the table, not the boring, crunchy, dry food that you eat every day. Of course you would repeat this behavior every chance you got.
Now I want you to think of the food you HATE the most – liver, broccoli, kale? Now imagine the food you hate is handed to you from the table. You are not going to repeat the behavior.
It’s as simple as that and I show real life examples of how to do this and the EXACT “mixture” I use to stop this behavior forever.
Check it out here: