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Pet tips
September 16, 2013, 05:00 AM By Scott Delucchi

Years ago, my mom gave me great advice. If you know your child has done something bad, don’t ask if they did it; this tempts them to lie. And, some little kids can’t resist. Ask why they did it. So, instead of asking “Did you use a marker on the wall?” ask “Why did you mark the wall? Quite often, we know our kids have been naughty before we see the evidence; we see the guilty look. People swear their dog gives this same look. Animal behaviorists would say otherwise. Take the example of the dog who has an accident in the house when his owner is away. They say they know he’s done something wrong the minute they walk in the door by the look on his face. The old school, widely-accepted response was to rub the dog’s nose in the accident. Today, we know this isn’t effective. Dogs live in the moment. If you attempt to punish them for something they did an hour ago, they simply won’t get it. To teach a dog that a behavior is inappropriate, you must catch them in the act. Interrupt with a firm vocalization like “ah ha” or “uh oh” and (in the case of the dog eliminating in your house) quickly take them outside. Then, when they “go” in an appropriate place, act like they just won the lottery — heap on praise! If you have a sneaky dog or have trouble catching him in the act, set him up. If he eats food off your coffee table, for example, booby trap the table and hide in another room while peeking around the corner. Back to that guilty look we think we see in our pets. Usually, we get that look because the dog associates the owner coming home with getting corrected, not because they know they are in trouble for something they did hours ago.

 

Scott oversees PHS/SPCA’s Adoption, Behavior and Training, Education, Outreach, Field Services, Cruelty Investigation, Volunteer and Media/PR program areas and staff from the new Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion.

 

 

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