Putting an unwanted behavior on cue is a method of training that has been used for at least the last 30 years. However it is still debated among trainers as to its effectiveness. I have used it myself with moderate affect based on the circumstances.
The idea is that if your dog is barking, or jumping up on the couch, you actually teach them to bark, or jump on the couch, the same way you would teach them a sit or a down. You show them the behavior you want … jumping on the couch, then you add a verbal cue for this behavior. The same goes for barking.
The flaw most people see right away is that if you encourage the inappropriate behavior, the dog learns that it is now a behavior that “might” get them reinforcement, so they attempt to elicit a reward by continuing the behavior you didn’t really want in the first place! The is termed “offering” a behavior, you have probably all experienced this when you say your dog’s name and she immediately sits. That is your dog “offering” a sit because in the past she has been rewarded for sitting.
So the question is, how do you put the behavior on cue, without encouraging the behavior in other situations?! My answer is this…
You must also teach the OPPOSITE behavior. If you teach barking then you must also teach “Quiet” or “Shush” (as Ian Dunbar likes to call it). If you teach Jumping up on the couch, then you must also teach jumping OFF the couch.
Then when your dog has learned both cues, you then only reinforce the unwanted behavior with praise, and immediately reinforce the desired behavior with a HUGE amount of treats. See the difference? Your dog certainly will!
This method allows your dog to CHOOSE between the OK behavior and the FANTASTICTREATSINMYMOUTHTHANKYOUPARTYTIMEEXCITING!!!!! behavior.
This method has been extremely effective for me in certain situations. For instance I had a client that I could barely talk to or hear over their Fox Terrier’s incessant, piercing, shrieks for the first 10 minutes of our session. So I stopped talking and focused on the dog. Ten minutes later the dog was CHOOSING to be quiet for long stretches (minutes at a time), so that I could continue my explanations to her caretaker. I have also used putting barking on cue for an SPCA dog who was driving the SPCA’s staff and neighbors insane.
Putting barking on cue, then making Quiet the preferred behavior is only the first step. It doesn’t mean your dog will never choose to bark again. But if you follow this training up with foundation behaviors, and alter your own habits on when you reinforce (yes, yelling at your dog when they bark IS reinforcing them), then your dogs inappropriate behaviors will come under control.