0-month-old Dalmation Bella has been with them for two weeks now10-month-old Dalmatian Bella has been with them for two weeks now, and she is still learning what is wanted of her – or as is so often the case – what is not wanted of her.

Young Dalmatian and new home.

There are problems with trying to teach a dog NOT to do something and it’s simply not efficient. One effect of using the negative approach is that the attention she is given by being pushed off and told ‘Down’ and ‘No’ can reinforce the very behaviour that they don’t want. Another problem is that, even if the ‘Uh-uh’ interrupts something like scratching at the door or poking her nose in the wires behind the TV, it isn’t actually teaching her anything useful like what she may do.

Every negative should be replaced with, or followed by – a positive.

“Don’t do that – do this instead”.

In silence I communicated to Bella, ‘Don’t jump up on me’ (because I shall show you with my body language that there is absolutely no mileage in that for you), ‘but sit or stand beside me instead’ (because I shall now give you attention you want).

The couple have got themselves a real jewel with Bella. She apparently came from a family with teenagers so she is quite robust, but probably rules and boundaries were  a bit lax. I gave her new owners general advice on reward-based training, correcting unwanted behaviour, walking nicely and on being well mannered.

If they continue to work with Bella through her adolescence she should become a wonderful companion.