Ignoring Bad Dog Behavior: The Worst Thing You Could Do?

Cocker Spaniel sitting on a fence

We all know that it’s important to reward good behavior when it comes to properly training a dog. But what happens if your dog is bad and you ignore his bad behavior? Many people believe the idea of “positive training” is reward good things, and ignore bad ones, but can ignoring bad behavior rather than correcting it do more harm than good for your four-legged friend?

A Common Misconception

Let’s talk about reward based training and why simply ignoring a bad behavior may not work.

Let’s use an example. Your dog begs for food at the dinner table. If you ignore your dog for long enough, then your dog may realize there is no food to be had at the dinner table and move on.

Sometimes this can work, but really only if you are the only person at the dinner table (or any dinner table, really) and can consistently and every time ignore those sad puppy eyes looking for food. If a friend or family member slips a treat under the table at dinner time, all of that ignoring you’ve done can be for naught. Now Fido knows that sometimes he can get food if he begs at the table, and that behavior can be hard to break.

Or, alternatively, let’s look at another example. Your dog constantly jumps on the countertops to look for food. If she finds food up on the countertop before you can stop her, she has instantly rewarded herself for her bad behavior.

So, what do you do?

Taking Action

If your dog is performing a behavior you don’t like, don’t be steamrolled by your dog! Seasoned trainers will be able to advise you best. Positively taking action on your dog does not mean yelling, hitting, slapping, or anything else that can be categorized as aggressive and abusive. Instead, try managing the problem and redirecting your dog to something else. Let’s look at our two examples:

Your dog begs for food at the dinner table. Instead of ignoring him or yelling at him, redirect him. Have him go to a different room for the duration of your meal, and then reward him when you are done eating so he associates going to the spot you have determined and then waiting with a reward.

Your dog jumps on the countertops to look for food. Call her away from the kitchen, reward her when she comes, and then block her from the kitchen.

Consistency is Key

Remember, being consistent in rewarding good behaviors and not allowing bad behaviors to go on endlessly is key. Your dog doesn’t know what you want and what you think is good versus bad until you teach him.

If you need assistance with your dog’s training, we offer dog training classes to help you train your dog and curb bad behaviors. We even offer private training courses! Contact us today if you’re interested in our training classes.