Learning From Mistakes

Rewarding your dog for good behavior, instead of punishing him for bad, will make for a happier, better-behaved pet. And a better life for his two-legged companion.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
2-minute read

You don’t need to treat your dog harshly to help him learn from his mistakes. In fact, the slickest trainers help dogs make as few mistakes as possible, by setting up training situations that ensure the dog succeeds. Generously reward your dog for walking next to you and keeping the leash slack, and he’ll pull less. If he does pull toward something, stop moving forward so that pulling doesn’t work for him. Drop some treats on the ground before the excited dog jumps, to focus his attention downward – then give him loads of scritches and affection while all four feet are on the floor. When you practice those down-stays, slowly increase their duration and your distance from your dog. 

I’m looking forward to making Yotam Ottolenghi’s chocolate cake again, now that I know how to get it right. That’s how your dog should feel about working with you.

Jolanta Benal is the author of The Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock




About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).