Praise your dog - but be very careful what you actually want repeated.

Praise is powerful.

Praise your dog - but be very careful what you actually want repeated.

"Good girl play nice"

- Oh I wish she would stop jumping and barking.

"Good boy, quiet now"

- I wish he wouldn't bark like that when meeting dogs.

There are some very powerful words above.


Absolutely praise your dog, but be very careful what you actually want repeated, praise is POWERFUL.

Unfortunately I hear praise misused and thrown around a bit like confetti. Many people are unaware that praise should be used sparingly.

Sitting by the beach, I watched people walking with their dogs on lead, stopping whenever another dog was near so they could sniff each other.

There was over excitement, tense posturing, barking and snarling...and unfortunately very, very few had any successful interactions.

Many of the dogs were told repeatedly "good boy/girl" ....while patted and praised for this overly excited state. Many were barking , some were growling.....still the "good boy/good girl" was repeated and the pats were liberal.

Unfortunately you have inadvertently showed your dog "this is EXACTLY how i want you to behave (and feel) every time you see another dog".
All that will happen when you praise a dog in this emotional state is they will do this again and again.

It is what you wanted wasn't it ?

This is simply teaching your dog to be overexcited, anxious, barking or be wary of other dogs and that IS what you want.
After praised that hyper behaviour, that growl, that lunge and the barking.

You patted and praised exactly what you don't want.

Praise the CALM.

They don't need to be encouraged to meet and play with that hyper dog that is straining and choking to get to yours. That is not the dog to choose to meet, and if I have just described your dog when meeting others, unfortunately unless you start to show them CALM when greeting, they will be very likely to always approach dogs the same.

Praise and encourage the calm around others but make 100 % sure it IS calm.

  • Neutral is a great aim.
  • Being neutral around dogs IS socialisation.
  • Calmness around dogs IS socialisation.

Being around other dogs and being calm and neutral IS absolutely praise worthy! Praise that liberally and often.

The dogs at the beach will likely never learn to be calm when near others because those golden words were used again and again and when these dogs were anything but calm.

Dogs will repeat these same "greetings" over and over again

Why would they behave any different?

This must be what you wanted, you said "good dog" patted and praised when they were anxious, barking or jumping up and down with excitement,
If they feel unsafe and you praise that emotion...they will show this again and again in the same circumstances.

Advocate for your dog.

If you want your dog to change their attitude to other dogs, you can help them.

Reward the calm looking at a distance, but make sure there is actual calm looking (and not fixating).

If you start to advocate for your dog and limit these over aroused, hyper, anxious or stressful meetings, you will strengthen your bond and your dog will learn to trust your decisions.

Praise is powerful.

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1 comment

It's my understanding that emotions, such as fear, can't be reinforced.