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While it might seem counterintuitive, ignoring your dog can sometimes work as a useful training tool.

The idea is that when you react to an unwanted behavior, you are actually rewarding the behavior. So ignoring behavior is particularly helpful when what the dog seeks is your attention. Here are some situations when ignoring your dog may work.


You come home from work and your dog excitedly greets you at the door. He gets more and more worked up and starts jumping. You firmly tell him no and push him off you, and he jumps on you again. By speaking to your dog and reacting to him, you are inadvertently rewarding him with attention—even if it’s negative. In fact, he may even perceive you pushing him off as playing. Instead, as soon as he jumps, without saying a word, turn your back to him and cross your arms. When he stops jumping, you can tell him good boy and pet him. If he jumps again, turn your back again. This may take some repetition.


There are a variety of reasons why a dog barks and whines, but when you think he’s doing it for attention, try ignoring it to stop the unwanted behavior. For example, you are sitting watching TV and he’s staring at you. He wants some playtime, but you are transfixed by Downton Abbey. Soon, your dog starts whining. You stop the program and tell him to stop. You resume the program, and the whine turns into a bark. You stand up, look at him and tell him to stop again. He stops and you sit back down again. Then, he starts barking. Your dog is learning that the whining and barking are the only things keeping your attention away from Downton Abbey and trained on him. Instead of telling him to stop, try ignoring the behavior until it stops. As soon as it stops, reward him with attention.


Puppies are often known for mouthing behaviors, but left unchecked, some dogs may continue to use mouthing for attention into adulthood. It can be handled in the same way as jumping. When it happens, immediately turn your back and cross your arms, and only give attention when the dog is calm and stops the behavior.

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