Whether you’re considering adoption, just brought home a new dog, or you’d like to correct some “bad” behavior in your current furry friend, we can help you gain a deeper understanding of your dog’s behavior. And understanding how your dog’s mind works and why these behaviors occur is the first step to prevention! With a little patience and a lot of practice, even the oldest dog can learn some new tricks.
Don’t Blame the Dog
Many behavioral problems are misunderstood and mishandled by dog owners. This mishandling can lead to an erosion of trust between dog and owner, which can then lead to more behavior problems.
We get it. It’s frustrating. Your carpet is ruined, your couch cushions were eaten, your backyard is filled with holes, you can’t take your pup on playdates because of aggressive behavior… Whatever the issue, we know that bad behavior can cause significant disruptions in your everyday life.
But the most important thing to remember when you’re dealing with frustrating behavior is that your dog is not doing it to hurt or annoy you. Your dog loves you. Bad behavior comes from fear, deprivation, pain, misunderstanding, or response to their environment. There are no “bad dogs,” only bad habits and lack of communication.
Yelling, physical punishment, and isolation will only exacerbate your dog’s negative emotions and reactions and lead to more problems. Positive reinforcement, calm reprimands, and consistency are key to basic dog obedience training.
Now that we have that covered, let’s talk about the most common behavioral issues in dogs, and our best dog obedience training tips for fixing them!
This is possibly the most common behavioral issue that we see. Dogs bark! It’s part of their nature. Barking is an important vocalization for your dog that allows it to communicate excitement, fear, pain, and warnings of danger. It’s also how they communicate with other dogs! These are all perfectly acceptable reasons for barking.
However, dogs also bark out of boredom, anxiety, or to get attention. This kind of barking can become excessive and start to grate on the nerves. It’s also important that your dog isn’t barking aggressively at guests or people on walks. You don’t want people to be afraid of your dog.
There are several ways to help limit excessive barking. The first is to teach your dog “quiet” and “down” commands. When they respond positively, reward them with lots of praise and treats! Eventually, your dog will associate being quiet with rewards.
You can also do some exposure therapy along with your positive reinforcement. Have your dog sit and stay, and then ring the doorbell, have someone knock, or play a cat meowing on your phone—whatever their barking trigger may be. Do it over and over and over again. Eventually, your dog will become disinterested because the stimulus is no longer new!
Chewing is a natural behavior that can cause a lot of distress for dog owners. Dogs may chew out of curiosity, anxiety, boredom, an overabundance of energy, or because they are teething.
The best way to prevent this natural behavior from damaging your shoes, rug, couch, etc., is to give your puppy plenty of appropriate chewing options. Toys, bones, and dental sticks are all excellent options. Invest in a variety of textures and densities to stimulate and interest your pup.
When possible, keep your personal items like shoes and bags off the ground and out of reach of your dog to prevent mistakes. If your dog does chew on something important to you, distract them by making a sharp noise. Then offer them a better chewing option.
Don’t scream at your dog or physically punish them. If you find something chewed on, but your dog is not in the act of chewing, do not punish them. If they aren’t doing anything wrong, they won’t connect the punishment with their actions. Instead, they’ll just associate it with you.
You can also help prevent excessive chewing by ensuring that your dog gets lots of exercise and stimulation.
#3 Bathroom Accidents
There are several reasons your dog might be pooping and/or peeing inside. Territorial marking, submission peeing, anxiety, and lack of house training can all be the cause of accidents. Whatever the reason, it can be extremely frustrating—especially if you give your dog ample opportunity to go outside.
For puppies, this is completely unavoidable behavior—especially before they’re 12 weeks old. Be patient, consistent, and kind. If your puppy is scared, they’re more likely to run and hide from you when it’s time to go out, which worsens the problem.
If you catch your dog in the act of improper urination or defecation, make a sharp, disapproving noise or say “No,” in a firm, low voice. Then take your dog outside to an appropriate spot and encourage them to finish outside. Reward them with treats and praise when they do.
If you find a mess after the fact, do not drag your dog to the accident and rub their nose in it. This is alarming for your dog and they do not associate your punishment with the act of peeing indoors. Instead, clean it up and try to work more trips outside into your schedule.
There are plenty of advanced techniques you can use as well while training your dog. Some people have their puppy ring a bell or stand by the door to ask to be let out. Positive reinforcement and consistency are key here.
Best Dog Obedience Training in Little Rock
If your dog’s behavior is affecting your quality of life, contact the Pine Hill Ranch Canine Center. We offer obedience training, sports training, private training, and agility training at all levels for all dogs. Whether you want to start off on the right foot with a new puppy or rehabilitate some bad habits, we can help you strengthen your relationship with your dog and improve both of your lives.