To The Dogs—Canine Advice Column

Smart Start

The foundations of good behavior start with correction and redirection.

By Hilton Butler


The first few weeks in the training process set the foundation for life-long behaviors. We can, of course, adjust and modify behaviors throughout the course of a pet’s lifetime, but the best way to fix bad behavior is to never let them start in the first place.

fix bad behavior is to never let them start in the first place. Many people confuse behavior and obedience, but it is important to understand the difference, especially in a new or young dog. Obedience is “human”— a person needs to be present to issue commands for the dog to obey. Momma dog never teaches a pup to sit, lie down or roll over, but she certainly corrects a pup for what she feels is a behavior infraction. Behavior is any action performed without cue or input from humans—things like nipping, jumping up on people and furniture, or chewing inappropriate things. Corrections for obedience cannot be made until we are positive the dog understands completely what is expected; behavior, on the other hand, can and should be corrected from the beginning.

In “Dog World,” a dog can jump on, pee on or chew just about anything without concern of correction from momma dog. When we introduce them to our human environments, we turn their canine world upside down and start issuing corrections. Dogs will always think as dogs—they are incapable of human level reasoning. Humans, by contrast, have the ability to rationalize from the canine point of view, at least for a moment.

Behavior Modeling

First and foremost, never allow a behavior as a puppy or adolescent that you do not want to continue into adulthood. It might be cute when your new puppy excitedly jumps up in your lap or nips at your heels as you walk away, but these behaviors lose cuteness quickly when your 10-pound puppy has grown into a 60-pound dog. To get started on the right paw, lets review the main behaviors most puppies display and how to overcome them.


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Fall 2018 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.


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