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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Pardon the Interruption

We all get frustrated when our dog does something she isn’t supposed to do — like chasing the cat, raiding the trash, jumping up to check out the counter (or our guests), etc. Our usual response is to get frustrated and tell our dog “NO!” in order to get her to stop, but there is a better way to reduce unwanted activities for both you and your best friend.

    There’s a tool in the kit of most force-free trainers that deserves more attention than it gets. In terms of training, I’m talking about interruption. Indulge me in an over-simplification. Pet behavior falls into two categories: behaviors we like (or at least tolerate), and behaviors we don’t like or won’t tolerate. The more skillful the trainer, the better they become at rewarding (reinforcing) desirable behaviors, and preventing undesirable behaviors from being rewarded (reinforced). It’s that concept of prevention that has so much to offer.
    You noticed I didn’t mention punishment for unwanted behaviors, right? Sure, using aversive consequences might put the brakes on a puppy chewing your shoes or a rambunctious adolescent surfing the counter for that last bite of sandwich. In the long run, positive punishment (imposing something painful or scary) causes more problems than it solves.
    Ideally, the goal is to prevent mistakes before they happen with careful management such as crates, scheduling, baby gates, tethers, closed doors, dog-walkers, day care, etc. The easiest problem to solve is the one than never gets a chance to happen. All the while, you’re directing your dog toward enjoyable activities that are safe and cause no damage to your home. Eventually, however, mistakes happen as our furry friends’ energy and curiosity leads them into forbidden activities. When you come into the den to find Fido tearing apart the sofa cushion, resist the inclination to scold and reprimand by shouting, “No, no, no! Stop it!” Instead, I suggest you begin by calmly interrupting the behavior you don’t like to prevent it from being reinforced, and redirect your dog to a more acceptable activity.
    The objective here is to limit both the danger to your pet or damage to your home, and limit the reward your pet experiences from doing such undesirable behavior. Let’s not kid ourselves, tearing up that sofa cushion was satisfying, and Fido has no idea that it was part of an expensive furniture set. He was bored, maybe teething, and needed an outlet. In that moment, you’re in damage control. Rather than making things worse by causing your dog to be afraid of you, simply interrupt the behavior with some distraction — maybe a tug of war rope or squeaky toy — and redirect him to playing with that.
    Destructive behavior can be frustrating and expensive. The best response is to consider how to raise your game with confinement and exercise to prevent it from happening again, and gently teach your    dog how to enjoy chew toys that are okay for him to gnaw and tear apart.
    So, when a problem behavior gets ahead of you, remember to interrupt and redirect. You’ll limit the damage without denting your relationship with your best friend.

    Bob Ryder, PMCT-3, CPDT-KA, is the owner/trainer of Pawsitive Transformations, LLC (pawstrans.com). He has been training dogs privately for over 30 years, and professionally since 2009. He believes that the best training begins with kindness and respect for both dogs and people. For more information, please call 309-451-8348 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
    Nilla’s Tub DIY Dog Wash and Health Food Store for Dogs & Cats, located at 211 Landmark Dr. in Normal, supports positive training methods. They have everything you need to bathe and groom your furry friend in a fun, relaxing environment and also carry a large selection of pet food that meets their own strict standards. No appointment necessary, call 309-451-9274 or visit them online at NillasTub.com.



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