Under Missouri law, you can be liable for your dog’s actions. If your dog bites another person—unless that person is an unlawful intruder—then you’re on the hook. You could face civil or even criminal charges. For this reason, it’s important to train your dog against biting or attacking.

According to animal behaviorist John Bradshaw, many owners go about training their dogs the wrong way: by assuming a dog’s cognition is similar to that of humans. Dogs are smart animals, but the way they perceive the world around them—and the things they pay attention to—are different from humans. In order to effectively train your dog, you need to know how it thinks.

It’s all about the body language.

Dogs are some of the most sensitive animals on the planet to body language. In addition, they’re naturally geared to pay attention to the people they love and trust. The manner in which you gesture, the direction you look—your dog is noticing all of these cues and drawing interpretations from them.

Attention equals reward.

Dogs love attention. In particular, they seek the attention of their owner and the people they love. When your dog pees on the carpet and you yell angrily at him, what he sees is the attention he’s receiving—regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. To a dog, attention of any kind is positive reinforcement.

To effectively reprimand your dog, fold your arms and ignore him. Deliberate avoid eye contact. He will soon notice that he’s not getting the attention he craves. Once this happens, shift gears. Get your dog to perform some action associated with good behavior. By regaining your attention, he’ll associate that behavior with reward.