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Can A Dog Be Casually Trained?

You may think of dog training as a time intensive, formal process. In reality, it is possible to teach your furry friend in a more laidback manner. Think about how we teach our children. Through our responses to behavior as it occurs, the child learns what is acceptable. The same philosophy applies to our four-legged children.

First, you should create an environment with your dog in mind. Just like children, a dog may act out if it is hungry, bored, anxious, or even tired. Make sure the dog has its own space where it knows it can go. This may be a crate or a large, comfy dog bed. You should also make sure you provide plenty of toys for the dog. If you do not offer entertainment and mental stimulation for the dog, it will inevitably find its own entertainment.

Once you create your dog-friendly environment, you need to develop an awareness of what your dog is doing so you can plan your response. You can react to behavior in one of three ways:

• Reward the behavior. Reinforce good behavior with a “good dog”, a favorite toy, or a treat.
• Ignore the behavior. If the misbehavior is minor, such as begging for attention while you are working on the computer, start by ignoring the behavior. If the dog responds by ignoring you and turning its attention to a toy, reward the desired behavior.
• Manage the behavior. If the misbehavior continues, try redirecting the dog to a toy, or even crating it with a toy, until you are finished working. Make sure you give the dog the attention it desires when you are done. With time, the dog will learn to entertain itself when you are working and that you will give it attention later.

Casual training amounts on-the-job training. You are responding to the dog’s needs yet providing gentle correction and redirection when needed.