How to Correct Bad Behavior in Dogs
Dogs Need to Learn Basic Commands
You've brought home this cute, adorable puppy and all of a sudden he or she has turned into a little menace, creating turmoil in your home. Your puppy needs to be taught what he can or cannot do. Before you correct the bad behavior, it will help immensely if you've trained your dog the basic commands of sit, stay, come, and down.
Dogs Need Rules Too
Setting up ground rules and being consistent are very important throughout the entire dog's life. All family members should use the same system for training and disciplining the dog. A dog at any age, if not trained, will do as he or she pleases.
Always stay calm when teaching or correcting a dog's behavior. Do not yell, scream, or hit the dog, as you do not want them fearing you.
Training Your Dog
Basic obedience training is highly recommended to correct any bad behavior. Every dog should either be trained to obey verbal commands, hand commands or clicker commands. This should be done when your dog is 3 to 4 months of age. In basic training they will learn sit, down, stay, heel, stand, and come.
At 10 and 12 weeks of age a puppy can be taught how to sit. Some obedience trainers offer classes for puppies as young as 10 weeks old. These are usually classes to socialize the puppy with other dogs.
If you cannot afford to take your dog to obedience training, there are books that you can purchase, videos online to teach you how to train your dog, as well as many online sites that are quite helpful.
Common Dog Behavior Problems
- Biting, nipping and mouthing
- Jumping up on people
- Rough playing
How to Correct Common Behavioral Problems
Stop Your Dog From Biting and Mouthing
It is natural for a puppy to use his mouth when playing. He did this with his litter mates playing, and it was also a way to tell them that he wanted to stop playing, and to back off.
Puppies have very sharp teeth. When playing with your puppy you'll want to discourage biting and mouthing. The way to do this is when you're playing, and he nips you, give a little cry and say "ouch." This should startle him so that he stops. Praise him once he stops, and hand him a toy that he can bite or nip. Should he have his teeth in you, which does happen, don't pull away. Let out a very loud cry so that he stops and looks at you. As soon as he releases, praise him, changing your tone of voice, so that he knows you are happy with him for letting go.
When my female dog was a puppy, I had a problem with her biting and attacking me in the evenings. After dinner I would go and sit on the couch and she would jump at me, bite my arms, thinking she was playing with me. I tried calmly to get her to stop, but it was not working. Finally I'd had enough of this behavior and gave her a time out from everyone in the household. I put her out in the back porch of the house for two hours. This corrected the problem and she never attacked me again.
Correct Inappropriate Dog Chewing
Dogs love to chew. Puppies chew when they're teething. Before your puppy chews your favorite leather shoes, the baseboard, a table leg or numerous other items that puppies love to chew on, invest in safe chew toys and items that are his and he knows he's allowed to chew on.
Here is a situation for example: You walk into the room and see your dog chewing on one of your favorite shoes. Walk over to him and sternly say "NO" removing the shoe from him. Find one of his chew toys and give it to him letting him know that he can chew on his toy rather than your shoes. This may take you several attempts but the dog will catch on.
I find that the best way to discourage chewing is to not leave anything out that the dog can get into.
There are products that you can purchase from pet stores that you spray onto items and places your dog likes to chew that will deter them away from the smell and taste of the product.
Stop Your Dog From Jumping Up
Dogs get excited and will jump up on you when you come home, visitors come over, or when paid attention to while you're walking them or at a park. There are several ways in which to discourage jumping and this should be done when they are puppies as these puppies are going to grow.
The best way to correct jumping up in my opinion is to use the "OFF" command. To train a dog this, I suggest having a family member or someone else you know come to your door. Have your dog collared and leashed. When there is a knock at the door, walk your dog over to the door making sure that the leash is short enough so that the dog cannot jump. When he does try to jump use the "OFF" command and then the "SIT" command. Once he is seated and no longer trying to jump, praise him and give him a treat.
Another way is, when walking into your house ignore the dog, making no eye contact until the dog settles down, and then praise him. I've never tried this method myself but have heard that it will work with some dogs.
This technique is good for larger dogs.
Stop Dog From Rough Play
Playing rough with your dog can get out of control and become potentially dangerous. You should never encourage the dog to attack your hand, arm or leg, even though you may think that this is cute when the dog is a puppy, he may end up hurting a small child.
When playing with toys such as a tug of war rope, the dog should be taught to stop when told the "Drop it" command. To teach the dog this it is quite easy. While playing the game, simply say, drop it, and stop pulling. If this doesn't work the first time, repeat the "Drop it" command. If the dog still will not let go, get up and leave. Later retrieve the toy and put it away. Let the dog know that you're in control of play time, not him. Continuing to do this will teach the dog to obey the "Drop it" command.
How to Stop a Dog From Begging
Every time you go to sit down for a meal or have a snack, your dog is right there in your face or sitting beside you at the table, begging for food. More than likely he does this because you've given him part of what you're eating in the past, and he figures it is okay to beg.
- Feed your dog at the same time that you are going to be sitting down to eat.
- Remove him from the room that you're eating in by either crating him, putting him outside or in another room.
- When he begs for food give him a firm command telling him no, and give the sit, down, and stay command.
Correcting a dog from begging once he's used to begging may take some time and a lot of persistence on your part. Stand your ground and never give in no matter how much he whines or looks at you with those big sad eyes.
How to Correct Excessive Dog Barking
First teach your dog the "Speak" command. Get him excited with a treat telling him to "Speak". When he barks, reward him with a treat. Once he has the speak command down pat you're going to teach him the "Quiet" command. Get him to speak, and then right before giving him the treat say "Quiet". Each time you do this, increase the amount of time before giving him the treat so that he will start associating the command "Quiet" with the treat.
Other methods are available to train your dog not to bark. The anti-barking collar can be purchased at a pet store. This is a radio collar that sends a small shock to the dog when he barks. If he continues to bark an increased shock is sent to his neck. Herbal spray collars, are also available, that sprays a citrus fog into the dogs face when he barks and interrupts him from barking.
The Safe No-Bark Collar
Are your neighbors complaining about excessive barking? This is the collar that I've used in the past to correct one my dogs from barking too much. It does work, and after using it for several months she no longer needed it.
Ways to Stop Dogs From Digging
Digging is a natural instinct in dogs. Many dig a spot when it is hot out to stay cool. There are various ways to get your dog to stop digging.
- Exercise him daily and vigorously, so that he is too tired to dig.
- Confine him to a kennel in the yard or a fenced off area where you can spy on him. When he starts to dig, reprimand him.
- Chicken wire can be placed in the hole or holes, and covered with soil. When your dog starts to dig in this area, he will not like the feel of the chicken wire, and should stop digging.
- Fill the holes with some of his feces, and cover with soil. Many dogs do not like the smell of their own feces, causing them to stop digging.
- If he is digging to bury bones, stop allowing him to have bones outside.
- If you have the room in your yard, you may want to designate an area to allow him to dig in.
Talk to a Professional
Should you have problems correcting bad behavior there are trained professionals that will help you with your dog. Talk to your veterinarian to rule out any health reasons that may be causing bad behavior. Your veterinarian is a good source to get advice or a recommendation for a trainer.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.