Words of Woofdom – “When all you have is a hammer…”
Training to the behaviors you want rather than all of the ones you don’t.
When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. An old adage that has a kernel of truth to it. It is the same for our dogs. When their only response is to jump, bark, or to run around in circles at a new person, thing, or anything new, unusual or even “scary,” that may become their response to everything. In this instance, their “tool” is their behavior in response to something. What we need to do is teach them the appropriate way to respond to that new person coming in the front door, or that new dog walking on the other side of the street. This will take some time as it is much easier for your dog to reach for that old, familiar “tool” instead of that new one he just learned. But as you consistently present that new “tool” with patience and yummy treats or their favorite toy, that new behavior becomes familiar and comfortable to use, leaving the old behaviors, the barking, jumping and running in circles, to gather dust in the back of the tool shed. This is how dogs learn what to do. Rather than trying to scold them or coerce them into not doing the multitude of things we do not want them to do, we teach them to use the right tool for each problem and they learn to solve different problems all on their own.