It is great to have a dog that responds reliably to cues to “sit,” “stay,” “leave it,” “come,” etc., but wouldn’t it be great if your dog naturally did these behaviors on their own, before you even needed to ask? Often dogs get our attention when they are doing things we don’t like, but we aren’t as good at noticing all the times they are making good decisions naturally. If we train ourselves to notice those moments though, and reinforce them, our dogs’ good habits will become stronger.

So, make a practice of “catching your dog being right.” Every day, set aside 20 small treats in a conveniently located jar. Your job is to notice and reward your dog when they are doing things you like, even without being asked. Notice when they go lie down on their bed while you are eating dinner, when they calmly watch the mail carrier walk past the house without sounding the alert, when they check in with you on a walk . . . or anything else you like. Behaviors that are reinforced will get stronger, so be proactive and build good habits in your dog.