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Ignoring dog behaviour doesn't work

One of the many strategies recommended by some trainers is to 'ignore' behaviour'.

It's a useless strategy for about 90% of things a dog does.



I mean, look at kids. If we start ignoring kids behaviour (in a classroom, at home, out in public) does it generally get BETTER or WORSE?

For some its a cry for help. If we ignore it, it just gets worse.

For some its a green light, well if they don't say anything we will just keep going.


Only for a few small things if you ignore things will improve. Maybe the narrative should be changed and say we only use ignoring to stop barking or attention seeking. For any other 'bigger' behaviours.. start redirecting, correcting (which is really not as awful as some make it seem) and then rewarding what you wanted instead!


Alright, it may work on the odd occasion.

But in general, ignoring a ‘bad behaviour’ isn’t necessarily going to make it stop. The only time to ignore is when your dog is attention barking or constantly bringing you toys for attention. If you stop interacting with them then, the behaviour is discouraged and happens less.


It does not work for behaviours that are self rewarding

Such as jumping on people. The advice is often ‘turn your back on them and ignore them’. Lots of dogs will just start jumping on your back. A dog will also not stop counter surfing if you just ignore the behaviour. They won’t stop digging when you ignore the behaviour. They won’t stop resource guarding if you ignore the behaviour.


If a kid draws on the wall, do we ignore it and hope they stop?

No, we don’t. Because if we ignore it they will think the whole wall is their artistic playground. Instead we offer them a ‘Stop, we don’t draw on the walls (=correction), here draw on this paper instead (=redirection).

But my dog isn’t a kid. Okay. Dog example.

Your dog is digging a hole in your garden. Hey we don’t do that --> move your dog away from the area (=correction). Go dig in this sandpit instead (=redirection to an alternative behaviour)

How about jumping then?

Hey we don’t do that --> Step into your dog / use a lead / step on the lead (=correction). Give me a sit instead (=redirection to an alternative behaviour + reward for following the behaviour )


Don’t ignore. Correct what you don’t like. Ask for an alternative positive behaviour. Reward that.




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