Good Dog – Bad Dog
Family dogs probably hear these exclamations more than any others. You probably agree that your dog should hear “Good Dog” much more than “Bad Dog”. It indicates a smooth relationship.
You probably also realize that dogs don’t understand the literal meaning of words. To dogs words mean whatever you teach them to mean.
“Good Dog” should always mean “Good Dog”
“Bad Dog” can have a more subtle meaning. You can teach a less harsh meaning. Instead of a purely shaming your dog, why not have it mean “Becoming a Good Dog”. When you shame your dog you are apt to shut it down. Instead offer a path to being a “Good Dog”? Here’s how:
Look for opportunities to use “Bad Dog” along with “Good Dog”. “Good Dog” should be accompanied with lots of love and affection. Yet, when your dog is a little slow responding to a command like “sit” (a very minor infraction), calmly say “Bad Dog” with a pleasant tone. Then when your dog actually sits, switch to an excited and happy “Good Dog”. That will get the meaning across. Whenever your dog needs to be more seriously scolded (hopefully not often) and hears “Bad Dog” with a more emphatic tone it will still associate the words with “Becoming a Good Dog”. It will realize that being a “Bad Dog” is just a temporary condition and not a curse or an unalterable destiny.