A sleepy puppy
A sleepy puppy

Your new puppy has been running you ragged all day, or, really, since before the day began, since she asked to go out at 3am and was ready for breakfast and the start of a new day at 6am. On your day off. In the couple of hours you’ve been up, you’ve already rescued a stray sock from her and stopped her from chasing the cat. By the time she collapses in a momentary exhaustion onto her dog bed, all you can think of is tiptoeing by so you can get a chance to fold the laundry, make a grocery list, and clean the bathroom before she wakes up again.

But wait!

What does it teach your puppy if she earns attention by chewing sneakers and barking at other animals and gets ignored when she lies quietly on her bed? Unfortunately, she will quickly learn that calm, relaxed behavior does not get attention, but that attention can be earned by what we might consider “problem” behaviors (like “stealing” things, barking, chasing, etc.).

Rewarding quiet behavior with treats—not just for puppies!
Rewarding quiet behavior with treats is not just for puppies!

I can hear the argument now, “But I didn’t praise her for stealing the sock!” In the morning just described, she hasn’t been praised for anything. Fortunately, she is a well-socialized puppy who will appreciate any attention—not to mention a good game of “chase the puppy with the sock.”

So, what should you do instead? How about a reward for that nice quiet behavior? A treat dropped on her bed as you go by, a special chew, or even a walk or a game of fetch might be in order now.

You didn’t really want to do the laundry anyway, did you?

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