Teaching your Dog Deference

dog deferenceAt Devon Dogs, our training is all about positive rewards, together with our research about how dogs learn. Of course, this includes other sentient beings, as well as people. Our aim is to teach dogs deference, how to do agility, to be obedient and equally important, to help them carry out these behaviours in a happy, relaxed way.  The reason for this is:

  •  Happy, relaxed dogs experience fewer health problems
  •  They can learn more effectively and additionally
  •  They are less likely to revert to stress related behaviours that are linked with a fearful or aggressive response when exposed to environmental stimuli

Furthermore, positive reinforcement through reward-based training is the basis for a deferential relationship. The rule is that the dog must sit and look attentive in exchange for a food based treat.  This is uniquely the rule for life, if the dog wants/needs ANYTHING he must offer a behaviour. The sit is the foundation behaviour before he/she gets anything!

Some of the things he/she may sit for are:


  •  Food and feeding
  •  Love
  •  Games/play/toys
  •  Going in or out of a room or area
  •  Having the collar/lead/harness put on
  •  Having feet handled
  •  Having a tick removed
  •  Having a wound dressed
  •  Attention
  •  Anything the dog wants

In conclusion – Why is it good to teach your dog deference?

  •  It reinforces the innate social structure of the dog and teaches the dog to look for cues from its owner/handler about appropriate behaviours, also
  •  Deference behaviours like a sit can give the dog time out and help deescalate a difficult moment!
  •  Deference behaviours give time to the dog to calm down; sitting dogs are less reactive than moving dogs!
  • Most importantly, when deference behaviours are reinforced consistently, the dog understands how he can earn rewards or any other kind of attention.

I would love to hear what you think about our ideas, and anything else you have come up with in your own dog-training experiences. Tell me what you think by posting your comments below. Why don’t you Share this with your friends and family by clicking the Facebook icon or following us on Twitter?

About the Author: Carole Langman works behind the scenes at Bowerland Cottage Holidays and Devon Dogs as the Business Manager. Her office is always a hive of activity, and with the vast amounts of work Carole has, we never really know how she gets through it all! To unwind, she loves gardening, hikes around Bowerland, travelling and writing.

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