NO isn’t conveying to Buster what they do want of him
They picked up Beagle mix Buster from a rescue just a few days ago and though totally in love with him they are a little overwhelmed.
I find it hard to believe that he’s been there for two months and not quickly adopted. He’s beautiful with the softest coat imaginable. Possibly he wasn’t snapped up sooner because of his jumping up and excitability. He is only eleven months old.
You can imagine how an energetic young dog when released from two months confinement might react to being let loose in a house and garden!
He jumps up at people and the more they push him down and say No, the more wound up he gets, eventually using his mouth, teeth and claws on the hands that are pushing him away.
He jumps up at the sides in the kitchen while they prepare food. No No just winds him up.
He has mad tearing about sessions which can result on his leaping onto them or grabbing articles and wrecking them. No No!
They have a hamster in a cage at his head height. He is very curious. No No.
Turning No into Yes
Starting right now they will concentrate on three things – strategies to calm him down generally, removing temptation where they can, and turning No into Yes.
People can be quite surprised when I suggest a high rate of food reinforcement for everything they ask the dog to do and even to mark moments when the dog is being ‘good’ – not doing things they don’t want him to do. (This isn’t quite the same as doing things that they do want him to do).
People can also find the idea of constantly carrying food on them a challenge. This isn’t extra food which would merely make the dog fat. Why feed him all his food at mealtimes? Why not let him earn it throughout the day?
You can see from my photo how focused he became when I started working with my clicker and tiny food rewards. I had asked him to Sit (which he knows) and Wait (which I’m sure he doesn’t know) – and he did it!
Buster needs to constantly be shown what IS required of him. If jumping on the sides is not wanted, what is? Feet on the floor. But – what’s in it for him? Jumping up at the sides, the chaos it can cause and the possibility of a stolen snack is very rewarding to him. No No is just background noise.
This is my favourite video demonstrating the confusion No can cause and the success of Yes instead.
I suggest a sort of swear box. Whenever anyone says No to Buster they have to put 50p in the box. They can then treat themselves to a meal out. If they do very well, it might only be a coffee!