7 Tips for Common Dog Behavior Problems

7 Tips for Common Dog Behavior Problems

Posted on April 27, 2017 by TheDoorGuardian

Tips for Common Dog Behavior Problems

Sometimes dogs can suddenly exhibit problem behaviors, even dogs who are otherwise always on their best behavior. Since dogs have no sense of morality, they don’t do one thing because it’s “wrong” and another thing because it’s “right.” They just do whatever works for them.

A common cause of problem behaviors is boredom. When a dog has nothing else to do, he just might try chewing or digging. As the owner, you can be held somewhat responsible for this, as you are the one who should be providing your dog with everything he needs, including an appropriate amount of daily exercise and entertainment.

When your dog begins to exhibit a problem behavior, try to work on correcting it right away. The longer you let it go on, the harder it will be to correct it. And for any of these which involve crating, or seclusion, the Pet Guardian can be an effective tool in aiding with dog proofing.

The following are some common problems, as well as ways in which you can help manage them: 

1) Aggression

Aggression isn’t always a full-out attack. Usually it’s more subtle—but equally dangerous—behavior. Does your dog bare his teeth at you when you reach for his collar to get him off the furniture? Does he stand over and guard his food bowl or special toys? Is walking him difficult because you can’t trust him to greet other dogs nicely? These are all manifestations of aggressive tendencies that will probably lead to a bite incident some day.
Set limits, rewarding only positive behavior, not responding emotionally, and evaluating diet are things you should implement around your home right away.

Reinforcing limits with an aggressive dog can cause the aggression to escalate.Because of the potential for serious harm, it’s critical to begin working with a professional. Pick up the phone or go online right now and call 1-800-PET-DOGS or go to www.apdt.com. This is the contact information for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, a national organization of certified, reward-oriented dog trainers and behaviorists.

2) Barking or Whining

The first thing to remember about barking is that it’s natural and, for many dogs, it’s quite enjoyable. For your part, when barking or whining aggravates you, try really hard not to “bark” or whine back—which you’re doing if you yell at or plead with your dog while he’s vocalizing in this way. The message he gets from you “barking back” is that maybe he should be louder, or maybe he should repeat himself so that you stop. Instead, teach him to bark on command using the words “speak” or “bark,” and to be quiet on command using the words “shush” or “quiet.” It’s usually easier to teach “speak” first, while your dog is actually barking.

3) Begging

This is a bad habit that is easier to prevent than to cure, so from the very beginning, when it’s time for you to eat, put your dog in his crate or confine him in a room with an engaging chew toy to occupy him. Only let him out when you’re finished. If you want to feed him leftovers, put them in his food bowl and incorporate them into regular meals. If you have a beggar, start crating or confining him. Steel yourself and your family to suffer through the barking and whining for as long as it takes. Only release him from the confinement when he is quiet.

4) Digging

If you have a dog who loves to dig—and again, digging is a natural canine instinct and can’t be shut down—don’t fight him, join him. Select a spot in your yard or on your walk where he won’t do too much damage if he digs. Encourage him to use that spot by burying something there that he needs to dig out. Praise him when he does. Set up a small sandbox in your yard where your dog can dig. If he’s digging in an unacceptable spot, it’s because you’re not supervising him or directing him to an acceptable spot. The same is true for “digging” indoors. If your dog is scratching at the floor, he’s probably anxious or bored.

5) Jumping Up

Your dog can’t jump up on someone if he’s sitting down, lying down, or otherwise confined. Enlist a friend or neighbor, as well as other family members, to help redirect this behavior. Put your dog on his leash, have someone ring the doorbell, approach with your dog, and ask the dog to sit. He sits, you open the door. He doesn’t sit, you wait until he does. When the person comes in, give them a couple of treats and have them ask the dog to sit. He sits, he gets a treat. He doesn’t sit, they turn their back on him for a moment.

If your puppy begins to jump on you, turn your back and ignore him. Praise him and give him a treat when all four paws are on the ground. When you have visitors, make sure your puppy is on a leash before you open the door. This will enable you to control his behavior.

6) Playing Too Roughly

It’s critical that rough play be settled and stopped immediately. To settle your dog when he’s playing this way with you, stop moving or making sounds. Stand up if you’re on the floor. Keep your hands and arms close to your body. Be a statue if possible, even if the dog is jumping up on you. If he is playing with others this way, have them stop moving and get up slowly, paying no attention to the dog. When he has settled enough to physically handle him without re-exciting him, pick him up or lead him to his crate or room of confinement. Give a long time-out for this offense. Play should only be allowed if it’s managed. As soon as anyone gets overexcited, calm it down and stop it. Do some training with him when he’s settled down, too, to reinforce that you’re his leader.

7) Submissive Urination

When you come inside to greet your dog, does he flop down and begin to wet himself? If so, you have a submissive urinator. First, check with your vet to make sure the problem isn’t due to a health issue. If it’s not, confine him somewhere that’s easy to clean so that you’re not doubly frustrated by a soiled carpet. Crate your dog or put him in a safe, confined space. When you approach to greet him after being away for a bit, do so in as emotionless a way as possible. If the problem has been going on for a while, you probably approach him reluctantly, anxiously, or suspiciously. He can pick up on your feelings, and they can contribute to his own anxiousness. Pretend he’s a strange dog whom you must get out the door calmly and gently, but as quickly as possible, so that he can do his business outside. If he urinates as you’re going outside, don’t react. Stay the course to the outside, let him do his thing, confine him again while you clean up, and then get on with the rest of your day. You must respond as unemotionally as possible until you feel you’re making progress. Slow and steady….

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