$#*! Your Dog Doesn’t Care About

Learn the top 3 things that really matter to your dog--and the top 3 that don’t matter a bit.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #78

A growing body of research suggests that confrontational training methods are less effective than reward-based training and also contribute to behavior problems. Although we can find flaws in any study, the same findings appear over and over again. (3) This isn’t at all surprising. From your dog’s point of view, coercive training amounts to aggression. In the hands of a skilled coercive trainer, the aggression is predictable and the dog can learn how to avoid it, but the threat is always there. I promise; you can meet your training goals without causing your dog any fear or pain.

Dogs Enjoy Our Company

Thing Number 2 that matters to your dog is your company. Sure, dogs vary–some are big mooshballs, and others would rather hang around in your general vicinity but not, you know, touching or anything like that. But in general dogs like to spend time with their posse and they get lonely if the posse’s never home and never wants to play with them or take them for a walk. Look, if you’re bothering to read this article, then odds are high you also give plenty of attention to your dog. Pat yourself on the back, because you’re contributing to his welfare. And do make a point of turning the warmth of your attention on behaviors that you like. Your dog will notice you noticing, and when he wants attention he’ll be more likely to try whatever went over so well again.

Dogs Love Brainwork

Thing Number 3 may surprise some of you. It’s brainwork. Think for three seconds about spending the day on the sofa--sounds great. Now think about it for a solid minute. You roll into one position. You roll into another. You get up and check the food bowl, just in case. You bark for a while, because sometimes somebody barks back. You pick up the remote and have a chew. You do this day after day after day, five days a week. And then your person comes home, takes you around the block or lets you out in the yard, pours your kibble in a bowl, and calls it a night. Dogs are smart, people! And so many of them spend so much of their lives so unbelievably bored.


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).