Stopping Your Dog's Undesirable Behaviors


  1. Replace bad habits with good habits through reinforcement. If it annoys you that every time someone comes to visit, your dog jumps all over them, you need to find some other way for your furry friend to greet guests. Start by determining what you would like your dog to do. Maybe you would prefer that he come and site by your side when people arrive. Then work on teaching your dog to sit, and reward him heavily with praise and treats when he does. With this technique, you are teaching your dog a new habit to replace the bad behavior that you want to break by replacing the bad behavior with something that brings praise and rewards.
  2. Interrupt bad behavior and show your dog how you want him to behave. Catching your dog in the act is one of the best opportunities for correcting bad behavior. Interruption is a great technique that involves interrupting a bad action by getting your dog’s attention. Yelling “stop!” in a low pitch voice is usually enough to divert attention to you. At that point, gently show him what you would like him to do instead. And, don’t’ forget to reward the dog for good behavior when he does it!
  3. Make sure that your puppy is not biting during play. Playing is a puppy’s favorite activity. But invariably they get too wound up and occasionally someone will be nipped by those pointy puppy teeth. Obviously, biting is something that you will want to stop as soon as possible. Instead of punishing your dog for biting by yelling or putting him in timeout – just simply stop playing with him and ignore his pleas for more play for 5-10 minutes. Then, resume playing and giving him lots of positive feedback for good play. This will help to end the biting habit before it becomes a problem.
  4. Catch your dog in the act of misbehaving. Correcting a dog well after they have done something bad is completely useless. Unless you are able to stop the dog in the middle of the behavior, chances are that a reprimand will have little meaning to him. Whenever possible, catch the dog in the act and redirect his behavior to one that you prefer. This simple step will help your dog to become well-behaved much faster than a series of reprimands for behaviors they did some time in the past.
  5. Realize that even negative attention can reinforce a negative behavior. Often times dogs misbehave to get your attention. When you overreact with negative attention you may actually be “rewarding” your dog with the attention he seeks. A better strategy is to ignore the negative behavior and to redirect the dog to something more positive. Then, praise heavily to reward him.
  6. Train your dog NOT to chew on furniture. Chewing is one of the problems that is universal for dog owners. It is more common for puppies to chew than older dogs; however the effects on furniture are very much the same. To stop a dog from chewing you will need to catch him in the act, and divert his attention to a dog toy or other item that you don’t mind him chewing. When he stops chewing the furniture, reward him with a treat and a lot of praise so that he begins to see chewing the appropriate object as a rewarding experience. Never punish your dog for chewing, as anxiety and fear will almost always make chewing habits worse instead of better.
  7. Train your dog NOT to bark. Barking is completely natural for a dog, and some breeds are more “talkative” than others. However, to save your sanity and the sanity of everyone around you, it’s important to stop your dog from barking excessively. When your dog starts barking tell him “good work” for alerting you. If a problem is not immediately noticeable, tell your dog BE QUIET while putting a treat in front of his nose. When the barking stops, wait a few seconds and allow your dog to have the treat. The next time you repeat this, make the wait time longer. If your dog begins to bark again, repeat the BE QUIET and start over. You will find that your dog will bark only when necessary after repeating this many times.
  8. Train your dog to never beg when people are eating. One of the most annoying things about visiting people with dogs is having the little critter beg for food the entire time you’re eating. As a dog owner you need to pay special attention to this behavior. There are many methods for keeping a dog from begging at the table, but the most effective is to simply ignore the dog entirely while you are eating. You should also offer the dog a toy filled with treats that come out during play, while you are eating. During the training phase, this will keep your dog distracted and keep him from begging at the table. After you’ve finished eating, take your dog away from the table, and offer him a treat and praise for good behavior.
  9. If you have children, realize that the responsibility does not lie entirely with your dog. In most cases where an otherwise well behaved dog bites a child, it is because the child somehow harmed the dog, which prompted a defensive move like biting. Therefore, when you have a dog and children together in the same home there needs to be just as much training for the children as there does for the dog. Teach your children from a very young age what is and is not appropriate behavior towards your dog. Do not allow small children to climb on, hit, pull or otherwise threaten your dog in the same way that you teach your dog not to growl or bite.
  10. Train your dog to stop barking unnecessarily. When your dog is outside, does he bark continuously at everything that moves? If you want to stop this behavior, consider a bark-control collar. This handy device issues tones for both approval and disapproval from a special collar that can be controlled from a distance. You will find that the feedback mechanism will quickly help your dog to become independent enough to be left alone outside without constant supervision.
  11. Training a dog not to bite. It is very important to never let your dog put his teeth on you intentionally. This will also protect you from having it happen accidentally. Anytime your dog (especially if he is a puppy) opens his mouth to chew on you, grab his snout and say NO BITE! If this doesn’t work, you should also try tapping his nose at the same time. The goal is not to frighten the dog, but to get the message across.
  12. Teach your dog not to run outside every time the door is opened. This is a common problem and can be best alleviated by simply teaching your dog that he is not to go through the door until you tell him OUTSIDE. This will take time, but when you are taking your dog out tell him OUTSIDE as you pass through the door. Then, praise him for the good behavior. If he tried to run through the door and you haven’t issued the command, use the LEAVE IT command to distract his attention away from the door.
  13. If your dog has a problem with aggression, start from the beginning. If you are experiencing problems with an aggressive dog, it is probably time to reassert your position of authority. A good way to do so is to start with the basics of obedience. Aggression that is not the result of a physical or mental issue can almost always be turned around once the dog realizes that you are in charge.
  14. Train your dog not to chew on your belongings. In the beginning, the responsibility is completely yours. The rule is simple. If you don’t want it chewed, put it out of reach of your dog. And, don’t confuse your dog by offering him an old shoe to chew on. Dogs do not know the difference between your old shoes and your NEW shoes. xThey simply recognize your scent and assume that it is ok to chew on items like this that carry your scent. The same does for socks, stuffed animals, eyeglasses and even remote controls.
  15. Train your dog not to dig in the yard. Dogs like to dig holes for a variety of reasons. If you spend time outside watching your dog, you will quickly determine if your dog is a digger and why he might be doing this. One reason that dogs will dig holes is to find a cool spot for a nap. Perhaps you need to create a shady spot for your dog to lie, or perhaps you need to show him where the cooler spots are. The key is to catch your dog in the act of digging, and to issue the STOP command. Then gently guide your dog to a cooler spot for his nap and reward him.
  16. Train your dog not to dig under fences. Some dogs will try to dig their way out of confinement. If you have a fence around your lawn, watch your dog to make sure that he is not going to try to escape. If you see him starting to dig under a fence, you need to interrupt him in the process and divert his attention with a toy or other activity. Then, issue rewards for his good behavior instead of punishing the negative behavior.
  17. Train your dog not to bury things in the yard. Most dogs will hide their possessions by instinct. One of the ways to hide things is to bury them in the lawn. If you would prefer that your dog not dig in the backyard, the best way to stop this behavior is to not allow treats and other items that are chewed or eaten outside of the house. Dogs will rarely try to bury toys, so allow those playthings outside instead.
  18. Train your dog not to steal food. Training your dog not to beg at the dinner table is not enough. It is important for you to be able to place food on a coffee table or counter without having it “stolen” by your dog. Therefore, start early by placing a piece of food on a table in front of you. The second that your dog notices the food, he will make his way over to investigate. Issue the STOP command or DOWN command in order to interrupt him. Then reward him with a toy or praise when he has left the food. Repeat this often, and once you are confident that your dog will not take the food with you watching, leave the room and watch from a doorway. Repeat the same process if your dog moves toward the unguarded food. This technique takes time, but unless you want to find your dinner tossed onto the floor and being eaten by your pet – it is a good practice to start early. During the training, be sure to never give your dog human food, or to leave food unattended unnecessarily.



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