What Are Paired Behaviors?

What Are Paired Behaviors?

Isn’t it great when your dog jumps? I just love an excited, jumping dog, until I don’t. With my small, 7lb miniature poodle it didn’t bother me when he puts his paws up on my legs to greet me or ask for attention.  However, when my sweet, whatchamacallit mutt Hades who was 50lbs of love would do it I realized we couldn’t keep that up, especially in summer. Ouch! Paws and claws. 


Pairing behaviors that are opposites can help your dog pick it up faster. Why separate two behaviors that can be used together or to prevent another? Do this, not that! Or do this instead of that! One of the most basic starters in training that most owners work on when they get a new dog is sit, but then later on when down is desired or the ever useful stand they have not been built and the cue is questionable. Sure sit, down or stand are basic training behaviors, but jumping, the ever attention seeking jumping is not.


Why would you want your dog to jump up? Oh the possibilities of uses are limitless, but for now just think how many times your dog puts paws on you and you pet them. Why did you do that? Well, my guess is most of the time you like the attention and so do they. But what about when you don’t want it? Often I go places and people tell their dogs off, but they never really stay off. Does the dog really understand “off” means to stay off forever? Of course not! So how do we help our dogs know when to jump up…up on me, up on the couch or bed, up in the car or on the vet/grooming table?


Well, here is how I taught my dog to stay off… pairing the behaviors. If the dog understands jump then how much easier it is to teach off and BOOM, clarity of what the difference is. You don’t have to teach your dog to jump on you or your friends to help them understand the meaning, there are lots of things to practice on in the yard, at a park and in the living room. It's still up to you to decide what acceptable behavior is. So in the end by teaching Hades to jump up for attention I was able to have two cues that had clear meaning and I put “up” in my tool box so I can have him jump up when I want him to and at all other times stay off. 


Pairing behaviors doesn’t start and end with four paws on the floor. We can use this method for sit & down, down & stand, take & drop, speak & quiet and many more. I loved taking a behavior that would otherwise annoy me and turning it into a positive and having it as a tool to communicate with one of my best friends. So let’s pair behaviors when we can, work on clear communication, and gain the benefit from getting to behaviors trained at the same time.

 

Written by: Marie Turner-Bailie

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