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Despite our best efforts, dogs can exhibit plenty of unwanted behaviors, from jumping on people to countersurfing for food. Any dog, whether they’re puppies or adults, may develop bad habits. Your dog wants to understand what you want them to do. It will take time and patience to make your goals clear and guide them away from bad dog behavior. Here are some strategies to help you curb unwanted behaviors.
Strategies for Success
Training Is Key
Teaching your dog to sit, come, or lie down may not seem related to behavioral problems, but it is. Positive reward-based training teaches your dog that good things happen when they do what you ask, strengthens your bond, and provides mental stimulation that will help tire them out, making them less likely to misbehave. Try introducing a new command each week and continue to practice the old ones. A great way to get started is by consulting a qualified dog trainer.
Exercise Helps Release Energy
A tired dog is a good dog. If you’re gone 12 hours a day, and your dog’s walk consists of a quick dash into the backyard, your dog might not be getting enough exercise. They may channel extra energy into bad behavior for dogs, like chewing shoes or dragging you on the leash.
Puppies generally have more energy than adult dogs and require more exercise. Also, your dog’s breed influences the level of physical activity they need. If you have questions about how much exercise your dog needs, talk to your vet.
Prevent Them From Learning Bad Behaviors
It’s important to puppy-proof your house. This includes putting away shoes and toys and picking houseplants up off the floor. Supervise the puppy, even in your fenced-in yard, so they don’t even start to engage in bad dog behavior. It’s easier to prevent them from learning bad habits than it is to correct bad dog behavior.
Reward Desired Behaviors
If your dog is lying quietly instead of jumping or barking, praise and pet them. If your dog walks on a leash beside you, tell them what a good dog they are. If you tell your dog what you want them to do instead of what you don’t want them to do, they’ll understand better (for example, saying “sit” rather than “don’t jump,” or “heel” rather than “don’t pull”).
Consistency Makes a Difference
It’s a good idea to have everyone follow the same rules when it comes to setting standards for dog behavior.If you don’t feed the dog from the table but someone else slips them treats, the dog will learn to beg at the table. If you ignore your dog when they jump on you but others pet them when they do, they’ll continue jumping on people.
Tips to Deal With Bad Dog Behavior
First, greet your dog calmly, so you’re not getting them overly excited. If they try to jump on you, stand like a statue or turn your back. Since dogs jump up to get attention, refusing to give them attention is the best way to discourage jumping.
If you’ve taught your dog to sit, ask for them to perform that behavior, since a sitting dog can’t jump. Once they’re calmly sitting, get down on your dog’s level and give him the attention they want. Eventually, the dog should sit without being asked.
To prevent them from jumping on visitors, try putting your dog in their crate or keep them on leash until they calm down. You can block off access to others with a dog gate or guide your dog to go somewhere else with a “place” command.
Chewing is a necessary and normal behavior for dogs, especially when they’re teething. The most effective way to save your possessions from destruction is to keep them out of your dog’s reach. Instead, offer your dog edible chews or chew toys that are appropriate for their age and size.
Once rewarded, countersurfing may take a long time to stop. Try to avoid feeding your dog scraps from the counter when you’re preparing food or cleaning up.
When you’re preparing food, you can put your dog in their crate. You can also teach them to stay in one spot (away from the food) with the “place” command. Another helpful command is “leave it,” in case the dog does grab a bite of food.
Pulling on the Leash
When you’re out for a walk, try not to pull your dog, since they’ll instinctively pull right back. Instead, reinforce walking nicely on the leash by providing praise, marking the good behavior with a dog training clicker, or offering a dog treat.
If your dog pulls on the leash, you can stop walking. You can also redirect by quickly reversing and calling them back to your side. Try to be consistent in your behaviors, not letting your dog pull you (and making sure anyone else walking them won’t let them pull).
At first, try practicing in a place where there aren’t many distractions. It’s important that your dog learns to pay attention to you, no matter how exciting the environment is.
Barking can quickly become a nuisance. So how do you stop a bad dog behavior like excessive barking? Teach a “quiet” or “enough” command. Then, as soon as your dog starts to bark, you calmly say that command.
Eventually, your dog should stop barking and come to you, and you can praise them or give them a treat. It’s important to stay calm during this process. If you get excited, your dog will likely think there’s something work barking about.
Consider why your dog might be barking. Are they bored? Do they need more exercise? Are they afraid of other dogs and people, meaning they might need more socialization? If there is an underlying cause, you can begin to address it. If you know your dog is barking at you for attention, try to avoid giving them that attention until they quiet down.