When your dog isn’t behaving the way you want, it can be frustrating and even embarrassing. Here’s how to deal with common behavior problems.
You’ve probably tried everything you can think of to get your dog to stop doing whatever they’re doing, but to no avail. You might even be feeling like an “unfit” owner who can’t control their own dog.
No matter what kind of bad dog behavior you’re dealing with, it is never too late to train your dog and reverse their behavior. But if the problem is more serious than normal—for example, if your dog has bitten someone or been aggressive towards another animal—then seek the advice of a qualified professional immediately.
In the meantime, here are some tips for dealing with common bad dog behaviors.
Dog chewing on things he or she shouldn’t.
If your dog is chewing on things they shouldn’t, follow these steps:
- First and foremost, make sure all objects that your dog could chew on are safely out of their reach. This includes the couch, your shoes, and trashcan items (yes, many dogs will dig through the garbage).
- Give your dog an alternative object that they can chew on. You can buy them a toy for this purpose or just be creative with what you have lying around your home. The key here is to give them something that is safe for them to chew on. Be careful with rawhides, as they can sometimes become lodged in a dog’s throat or cause internal damage when ingested.
- If you discover that your dog has chewed something he or she wasn’t supposed to and you catch him in the act (you didn’t see it happen? No worries—more on this later), act sternly but calmly by saying “No!” and taking away the item from him/her. You may need to say it multiple times until they stop and look at you. Once they do this, give them some praise by saying “Good!” then redirect their attention and energy elsewhere (like giving them an object they’re allowed to chew).
There are many reasons why a dog barks and whines. The most common reason is boredom in dogs. Just like humans, dogs get bored too when they do nothing all day. Make sure that your dog gets adequate stimulation with toys and playtime so it doesn’t get bored and lonely.
Another reason for barking could be due to separation anxiety. It’s best to consult your veterinarian about this problem so he can give you the best advice on how to treat it.
Dogs jumping on people.
If your dog is jumping on you, or other people you and your dog come across in the house or on walks, then this is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Sometimes, when people arrive at home after being away for a long time, they get very excited and hug their dog. This can teach your pooch that it’s ok to jump up when we greet them. If the person who impulsively hugs the dog has deep pockets, then this can also lead to the dog learning to jump up for treats all the time—thinking that other visitors are going to give them treats too!
A better option is to teach your pup an alternative behavior (like sitting) through positive reinforcement training. When they sit instead of jumping they’re more likely to get rewards like treats, affection and attention (don’t forget attention is a reward too!).
Dogs who are afraid of loud noises.
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Dogs who mark their territory in the house.
Dogs marking their territory in the house is a common issue with male dogs. They will often raise their leg and urinate on objects in the house. This is a normal behavior for dogs, but it can be problematic in the house. Marking is done with urine, feces, or even dominant behaviors like pushing other dogs out of the way. Marking can be triggered by other dogs in the area, or changes in their environment—like a new couch or family member.
If your dog marks its territory inside the home, don’t worry: there are steps you can take to stop this undesirable behavior. First, spay or neuter your dog if they aren’t already; this will greatly reduce marking associated with being in heat or intact male traits (like being territorial). If it’s not an option to do either of these things due to medical issues or personal beliefs, then you’ll need to pay extra attention to when your dog marks and what triggers it so that you can prevent it from happening again.
Leash pulling during walks.
Leash pulling during walks is a common behavior problem. People and dogs both hate it, but there’s not much you can do to eliminate it after the fact.
It’s true that all of us—dog owners and non-owners alike—wish we could stop this behavior altogether. After all, we don’t want our dogs to get hurt or killed while we’re out walking them! We’d rather them be safe than sorry. But, unfortunately …
… there isn’t much you can do (besides maybe teaching your dog to mind their manners) to prevent your dog from pulling on a leash.
Maybe you should learn how to respond calmly when your dog pulls on the leash, though?
Chewing furniture when you’re not around to correct them.
Dogs who are left alone and unsupervised for long periods of time tend to chew on things when they feel bored or stressed. This is a natural behavior for them, as wild dogs will chew through bones that they scavenged from their kills to get at the nutritious marrow inside.
While putting your dog in the crate may not seem like an appealing option, it may be necessary if you want to keep your furniture intact. Make sure that the crate is set up in a location where there’s nothing for them to chew on, and use a crate cover if you have one. Your dog will love his or her new home!
It’s okay to get help from an expert if you need it!
Sometimes, no matter what you try, the behavior problems persist. In that case, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to get help from an expert. Many times people are hesitant to do this because they feel ashamed or like a “bad dog parent” for not being able to solve the problem on their own. But your dog is an important part of your life and family—it shouldn’t feel like a failure to ask for help if you need it!
And if you’re struggling with something else—like how to put together a piece of furniture or how to deal with the crazy person at work—remember: it’s okay to ask for help from an expert too!