If you’ve been telling your furry friend “good boy” or “good girl” when they do something you tell them to do, dog trainer Nicole Parayno has news for you.
In the video, Parayno asks her client what they immediately say to their dog when she obeys them, to which they respond “Good girl!” in a sing-song tone. While this is probably true for a lot of pet owners, Parayno says it’s not such a good idea.
“I don’t suggest ‘good girl’ because ‘good girl’ is something that almost everybody says to their dog just because,” she says in the video. “You come home and you’re like, ‘Awww, good girl!’ You just look at her and she exists and you say ‘good girl.’”
If you want to let your dog know that an action they did is correct, Parayno suggests a different marker word.
A different marker word
“When I’m trying to communicate with her that that’s exactly what I wanted and I say ‘good girl,’ but she hears ‘good girl’ all the time, it’s not really telling her that that’s what I wanted her to do.”
Parayno continues, “So the first thing that comes out of my mouth is, ‘YES!’ I need her to know that what she did in that exact moment is exactly what I wanted.”
While it might feel natural to let your furry friend know they’re a good girl or boy, Parayno’s explanation of why you shouldn’t say it makes a lot of sense.
“You have to have a word that you don’t say any other time except for when her butt hits the floor, [or] she lies down, [or] she stays,” she explains.
But you don’t have to eliminate your “good boys” and “good girls” entirely. Parayno says you can definitely use those words, just not as the praise marker.
“You can say ‘YES!’ [then] ‘good girl, good job, whatever’ afterwards,” she says.
Many pet owners flooded the comments with their own praise for the strategy.
“The yes command works SO GOOD!!” wrote one happy dog parent.
“Does this work on kids?” asked a cheeky human parent.
Parayno’s method works on the flip side as well, when you need to reprimand your dog.
She tells her client, “I try to have less emotion involved. I just say, ‘Uh huh!’ I don’t want her to think, ‘I’ll listen to you when you’re yelling,’ instead of listening to me the first time I asked.”
Parayno’s method is supported by the American Kennel Club, which encourages dog owners to praise their pup when he or she does the right thing. These training methods can ultimately improve pet-owner relationships, making it a net paw-sitive for all involved.
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