There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with an ill-mannered dog. Whether your dog is jumping on everyone he meets, chewing on furniture, barking, digging, or soiling in the house, there a few things that you can do to help solve the problem behavior including:
- Keep your dog confined to a crate or dog-proofed room when you aren't around to supervise. One of the biggest mistakes people make when dealing with problem behaviors is allowing their dog the run of the house. Your dog needs your supervision to ensure he stays out of mischief so if you can't keep an eye on him, he needs to be confined in a safe area. Do some homework on crate training if you're planning on using a crate. It's important that you introduce your dog or puppy to his crate slowly, using treats, toys and a comfortable bed to make this a pleasant place for him to spend time. A crate is not meant to house your dog for indefinite periods of time, only when you are unavailable to keep an eye on him. Puppies should spend no more than a few hours in a crate, and adult dogs should only be crated for a maximum of six hours.
Make sure that your dog is getting sufficient exercise each day. Excess energy is one of the reasons dogs get into trouble. Left to their own devices, dogs will look for their own ways to burn off extra energy. The ways they decide to do this are probably not what you would choose. The amount of exercise needed varies from dog to dog. It's dependent on many things including your dog's breed, age, and physical condition. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog's specific exercise needs.
Provide your dog with mental stimulation. Just as you would get bored sitting around for days on end with nothing to do, so does your dog. Provide ways to keep your dog occupied so that he does not go looking for his own ways to entertain himself. Things like exercise, interesting toys, and training are great ways to prevent inappropriate chewing, digging and barking.
Provide your dog with plenty of his own toys. If your dog is chewing on things you would rather he didn't, look to see if he has enough of his own things to chew, such as rawhides, knuckle bones, Kong toys, and Buster Cubes. Look for toys that are indestructible so your dog won't ingest anything harmful. Be sure to give him lots of praise for chewing on things you deem appropriate and put anything you don't want him to chew on out of his reach.
Make sure that you are not inadvertently reinforcing your dog's behavior. For example, if your dog is barking for attention and you respond, even if it's to scold him, he will be rewarded by your attention. The same goes for jumping. If your dog is jumping, and you reach down to push him off of you, he may interpret this as attention or the beginning of a fun game, thus reinforcing the behavior.
Teach your dog a new behavior that is incompatible with the unwanted behavior. For instance, if your dog jumps on you when you come home, teach him to sit instead. Since he can't do both at the same time, the jumping will stop as long as you keep rewarding your dog for sitting.
Remember to reward good behavior. When you get frustrated with your dog's bad behavior it may seem as if you spend your day focusing on these things. Remember to look for the good--your dog sitting by your feet chewing one of his bones, your dog sitting patiently waiting for you to open the door to let him out--and reward him. Give him plenty of treats and praise.
Consult a trainer. Don't wait until problems become so bad that you're considering giving up your pet. As soon as your dog exhibits behaviors that you feel are inappropriate, get in touch with a trainer. A professional trainer can help you start working on these problems immediately.
No matter what unwanted behaviors your dog is exhibiting, it's important to remember that it is up to you to teach him what is appropriate. With time, patience and love, your four-legged companion will learn good manners and be a much-loved member of your family.