How To Improve Bad Habits In Dogs
You ever feel like your friends hate your pet?
Like you can’t take him around people?
Maybe it’s one of these reasons.
Here are my chief complaints with other folk’s dogs. ( And it’s not just me. Everyone hates these bad behaviors.)
But I absolutely love dogs. And if these behavior’s grate on me, they probably grate on other folks, too.
There’s hope! For every one of these problems, I offer some solutions to help your dog find new habits.
You may have learned to sleep through his barking. But your neighbors never will. (I know from experience).
I’m constantly amazed at how dog owners can complain about their neighbor’s dog barking incessantly, and seem to not even hear a single one of their own dog’s volley of barks.
But then, it happened to me.
I was watching a movie. And an hour in, I realized my dog had been outside barking, and I had somehow just tuned him out.
I felt like a bad parent. But I was also dismayed. I never wanted to be “That Neighbor”.
So how do you stop a barker?
Step #1 Solve The Boredom. Often dogs bark because they are lonely and/or bored. They want attention. They want to defend their territory. Give your dogs plenty of fun toys, bones, and human interaction. It is important to solve this first because many dog bark just to get your attention. This means that with an attention-barker, even scolding them reinforces the behavior since you are providing them that attention they are craving. To solve the attention-craving and boredom first, and you are well on your way.
Step #2 Remove The Stimulus. Barking at the mailman? Move their run or erect a barrier to making that distraction less attracting. Often this is where a “den” comes in handy and your pet just needs to feel safe. Putting them in a crate can offer them that safety they are craving.
Step #3 Give Them An Incompatible Command. The first thing my dogs learn is where their bed is. “Go To Bed” is guaranteed to shut up the noisiest barker as they have to stop what they are doing and trot off. I only leave them there for a couple of minutes — just long enough to reset their attention.
It seems like I always have a friend with one of these. They started jumping up on people to greet them as a puppy, and now as a 120-pound dog, the jumping behavior is nothing short of terrifying.
I love dogs, but I can’t say I enjoy being mauled by them.
Teaching your dog to “sit” is a great way to start working around the jumping behavior. When they greet you by jumping, you need to fold your hands (or place your hands in your pocket — jumpers are often trying to smell your hand) and tell them to “sit”.
Consistent sit training can provide your dog with an alternative way to greet visitors.
The first time I met a dog that pees when it get’s excited was my aunt’s little dog. It was so happy to see me — and as an 8-year-old — I was excited to see it. It rolled over on it’s back, and as I knelt down to pet it’s belly, it peed on my hand.
I was pretty shocked. My poor aunt was so embarrassed.
The challenge with this behavior is that it truly is a “disorder”. The dog is scared and trying to be submissive.
The best thing you can do is teach your dog that everything is ok. Get down on your knees and let your dog approach you. Talk to it calmly and quietly.
If the entire family treats the pet in this manner, he or she should eventually learn to be less fearful.
It gets insane. Every piece of furniture bares their teeth marks. And they’ve destroyed more than one good library book that was accidentally left in their reach.
There are several reasons why dogs chew. To begin with, puppies love exploring the world with their mouths. They quickly learn what is yummy food, and what is just fun to tear apart.
The trick is teaching them what is “ok” to tear apart.
The first step is to provide adequate toys that are “ok” for them to chew on. Making sure that they have enough appropriate ways for them to exercise their teeth can make it easier to keep their teeth off of the things you want to save.
And, should they get confused and start gnawing on the kitchen table, you can then substitute an appropriate treat.
The other thing you can do is spray the “bitter apple” flavor on whatever you want them to not chew on. The taste deterrent can be very effective for helping to further deter bad chewing behavior.
And, you probably realize this already, but you should not allow your puppy to chew on you or other persons. As with the furniture, substitute an appropriate chew toy should they get too mouthy.
The dog who mounts every guest is, well, awkward.
And there are several reasons why they may exhibit this behavior. For some, it is purely sexual. Even with females and neutered dogs, that desire is there, and they often act it out in what we humans feel are very uncomfortable ways.
This can also be caused by anxiety, excitement, and — you guessed it — boredom.
So the first step is ensuring that your pet isn’t bored and that he or she is getting plenty of interaction. The second step is to help de-stress situations. Perhaps he doesn’t need to meet every guest, or the guests can be introduced in a slow, calm manner — similar to the way we help the pee-er above.
So often, we humans blame our dogs for their “bad behavior”. And we don’t acknowledge the fact that they are living with a human family and they don’t speak our language, or fully understand our rules.
Providing your pet with a safe, well-structured environment that offers a lot of interaction with his “pack” can go long ways towards helping him recover from these behaviors.