I often get asked how to stop dogs from being naughty? I hear people say "I tell them off, but they keep doing it anyway". "They know they shouldn't be doing it", or similar themes.
Dog's view the world as what is safe versus what is dangerous. This is why telling a dog off for counter surfing (grabbing things of the kitchen worktops) won't stop the behaviour as they will just learn that they cannot do it when you are present, as this is when it is 'dangerous' and when you are not present it is safe. They don't know your house rules and why wouldn't they try and eat tasty things within reach? If it works - they will keep doing it. As a dog parent, your job is to set up the environment so they don't make mistakes as well as showing them how you want them to behave.
In this example, make sure all worktops are clear (including exciting tea towels) so that any opportunity isn't inadvertently rewarded by your dog grabbing something tasty. You also need to spend time rewarding your dog for keeping their paws on the floor when in this room. A 'settle on the mat' understanding would work really well here. This, however, isn't really what I wanted to focus on.
So why I am so happy that I caught my dog Bria with her paws on the window sill trying to reach a ball?
For me, I was really happy that she was bold enough to do this. I love that she saw what she wanted and tried hard to achieve her goal. She does tend to hold back and not push for example, if her ball goes under the table or the door closes. I want her to be confident and feel she can 'try' and figure out the problem. I want a dog that uses their brain and tries to solve problems as this is a dog that will be much more willing to learn new skills and have confidence in working through problems.
So the next time you catch yourself 'correcting' your dog, think: are you shutting them down? Are you stopping them have the confidence in working through a problem? Should you be more encouraging when your dog tries something new?
I am not suggesting you just let your dog do whatever they choose - this could be dangerous and will probably result in a dog that isn't much fun to live with. However, I would like to encourage you to think that some 'naughty' behaviour as an opportunity to boost confidence and problem solving skills. You just might like the version of your dog that this thought process produces.