Redirection of behaviours or alternate behaviour

Redirection is a popular tactic for dealing with a dogs undesirable behaviour. Its appeal is understandable, because it’s about aiming a dog to another activity rather than confronting an issue directly and setting a limit. It helps us dodge the bullet of our dog’s resistance, which might include anger, anxiety or a total meltdown .

Redirecting Behaviours

Little suzy is in the lounge room ohh so very quiet you walk in and she is drawing over the walls with a texta. What should you do ?? tell her off ? or redirect her behaviour?
So we will redirection for her unwanted behaviour. “Suzy go play with your dolls in your bedroom” So off she trots and plays with her dolls only 10 minutes later she is back drawing on the walls again. has she learnt anything? Nope . She still has the inclination of drawing on the walls regardless of what she was told to do instead.

Apparently, redirection often works — at least momentarily — and I can appreciate that it allows the owner to remain the good guy. I love being the good guy! Instead of saying, “I won’t let you chew my lounge chair. Here’s a toy if you want to chew,” it’s easier and less likely to cause friction especially if I ask enthusiastically, “Come on fido Here look a toy for you to play with?” So, I may save my sofa in the nick of time, but my dog has no idea chewing on it is not okay, and may very well try it again. Well, at least there is no conflict — I’m still the good guy! And right there is the first problem I have with redirection…


I don’t like acting perky and upbeat when I’m really a little annoyed. Besides making me feel like a big phony, I don’t think it’s good modelling or healthy for my relationship with my dog. As uncomfortable as it is to face the music (or chewing the sofa), I believe dogs deserve (and need) an honest response. No, we shouldn’t react angrily if we can possibly help it, but we don’t have to perform or be inauthentic either. Staying calm, giving a simple correction and a real choice (like, you can chew on this or find something else to do) is all that’s needed.

No guidance

What does a dog learn when we direct him to play/chew another object rather than just telling/showing him we can’t let him chew the lounge? Dogs need us to help them understand the house rules, and eventually internalise our expectations and values. Redirection distracts dogs during a teachable moment instead of helping them benefit from it.

Underestimates and discourages attention and awareness

Redirecting a dog means asking him to switch gears and forget what has taken place. Is this lack of awareness something to encourage?People say that dogs have a short attention span thus redirection works. To me this is a grat way of making the attention span even shorter.

On the other hand dogs that arent used to redirections wont buy into it. They cant be fooled or coaxed into leaving something they are doing ( eating the sofa). They need a black and white answer. Telling them in no uncertain terms eating the lounge is unacceptable.

An aware dog may be less convenient sometimes when we cant trick him in redirecting ( i’d rather eat the couch than eat that rubber toy that looks like a chicken with only half its dna).


Redirecting is cajoling, distraction and trickery that underestimates a dogs intelligence — his ability to learn and comprehend. Dog deserve the same respect as an intelligent being should.

Regardless of how much you redirect it the dog still WANTS to do it. So what stops the dog doing it ?? NOTHING.

Your dog loves chasing birds,rabbits, chickens maybe even kids especially if its a herding type dog. It is instinct and it is also self rewarding. They LOVE doing it its just in their genetic makeup . So in this scenario we will stop the dog chasing a bird by redirecting it with lets say a ball or a tug toy. 99% of the dogs wont care for the ball or tug toy if they want to chase the bird,rabbit whatever. Maybe even a car?

If i pay you to learn and only speak French ..(pay is reward) (french is alternate behaviour) Do you forget English ?? NOPE. If you met someone that only spoke English would you speak English to them or French?

An alternate behaviour doesn’t make the unwanted behaviour go away. The reward for the alternate behaviour MUST be greater that the self reward or satisfaction that the dog is getting from the unwanted behaviour.

A dog counter surfs. Steals food off the kitchen bench or table. Answer to that ? Easiest way to solve the problem is not leave food laying around. Use baby fencing or guards so the dog cant get to the food. So you change your lifestyle or change the surroundings so he cant get to the food . Has that taught him ANYTHING ??? NOPE

Positive reinforement does not teach what NOT to do

Exactly as the heading says. Positive reinforcement will not teach a dog what not to do .If you dont want the dog to do something how can positive reinforcement help ?? As they say “the booze is better than the biscuit” Give a hunting dog the choice of a rump steak or a live quail. The dog will run itself into the ground trying to get to the quail. It doesn’t care for the $25 a kilo rump steak

But All I Hear About is Positive Only Training

Yes you do !, And if you notice they all say the same thing .Every website just repeats over and over again the same rhetoric.They all come from the same genre all come from the same school and all have the same certificates.

Let me ask you a few things ….Why haven’t they got pictures of their own dogs training on their sites? Rather have pictures off the net. Why do they not say that they have obedient dogs ,only ones with manners. Why do they have so many different levels of courses just to achieve simple things.

They talk about breaking the spirit of the dog, or damaging your relationship with it or your dog will become aggressive. Right at this time in your life what sort of relationship have you got with your dog?? 50% of my clients come to me BECAUSE they have an aggressive dog. And the spirit of the dog ?? what is he going to fall into a blubbering mess on the ground?

Sylvia-Stasiewicz, who wrote The Love That Dog Training Method, says a client’s Australian shepherd wouldn’t stop jumping, despite reprimands.
A trainer who used a more traditional, alpha dog technique taught the client to knee the dog in the chest each time it jumped.
Rather than punish the dog for doing something bad, Sylvia-Stasiewicz had the client greet the dog only when it was sitting. If the dog jumped, the client ignored it or turned his back. But when the dog sat, he got his favourite treat of a stuffed Kong or praise as a reward for not jumping. After five weeks of class time plus practice, the dog stopped jumping.

Ok sounds good?? Its rubbish sorry. Reprimanding a dog?? How do you do that ,how do you tell a dog off? tell it NO? Does it even understand what NO means?
Alpha dog technique .. give me a break Nothing to do with Alpha .Dog Jumps knee it in the chest dog sits give it a pat. Dog stops jumping in (being conservative) 5 minutes.
Her way ? 5 WEEKS OF CLASS PLUS PRACTICE !!!!. Im sorry but in 6 weeks i have my dogs doing stays in front of shopping centres off lead
Sylvia-Stasiewicz admits results can come slower with purely positive reinforcement, but says the method has even saved so-called “death row dogs” who some thought impossible to rehabilitate.Well maybe they have but in what time frame .They are death row dogs they haven’t got TIME.
By the way I hate using the term (alpha dog) because it’s a buzzword that prompts the ‘positive crowd’ to near criminalise people that correct dogs, You need balance. It’s like cooking – if you put too much salt in the dish, it’s not going to taste good.

So Whats this Balanced Training

Well firstly its based on common sense. Its based on natures rules. Not something that was manufactured in a laboratory.As with humans dogs can make choices. They can choose what to do, make the right decisions. And by consequence they learn what to do and what not to do.How many times would a dog play with a spiny ant eater or an echidna ? Once maybe twice. A dog doesn’t know what an echidna has on its back. He doesn’t know those spikes are needle sharp. He will soon learn though, once her tries to paw it or grab it.Do you think the dog would keep persevering ? Getting spiked every time it touched it? And what do you think the dog would do next time he sees one? After of course you have taken it to the vet to get fixed .He would go ahhhh I remember this thing and not even try to touch it. Consequence, Mother Natures own consequence. It works.
On the other hand if a dog for example escapes out of your yard and finds a rubbish bin tips it over and finds food in it what do you think it will do next time. Yep you got it .Rubbish bin = Food = Ill do that again .Worked out alright last time.
A dog does something good it gets rewarded. Dog does something bad gets corrected. Yep ladies and gentlemen Its called punishment . In Scientific terms which i will use means Something that will stop or diminish a behaviour. You want the dog to do something well then you reward it for doing it.Balance and consequence. Wrong and right.Rewards alone will not stop bad behaviours. Science has said ..Positive reinforcement will make something more likely happen again. Punishment will stop something happening again. Balance Balance Balance.
So back to the dog jumping ?Dog jumps. Knee comes up .Dog sits .Gets rewarded Three times dog stops jumping on people. Maximum time taken 5 minutes. So now we can get on with teaching the dog what we want it to do.
“Punishment does not teach an animal what to do,” because *that is the point* of a properly-applied and well-timed negative consequence. We “punish” a behaviour to decrease its frequency and overall occurrence, and reinforce to increase the frequency of a behaviour. That sentence and its derivatives indicate to me that people who claim to know something about behaviour actually…don’t.

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