You know how embarrassing it can be when your dog acts inappropriately in a public place? You try to get her under control, but she simply ignores you and carries on being aggressive and unruly. You want to know how to correct unwanted dog behavior – right?
Dog behavior training courses make it seem so easy. They rarely take into consideration all the little things that can – and often do – get in the way. But, you know it’s possible for other people to control their dog’s bad behavior. So, why can’t you as well?
This article will tell you in straight language the most effective ways to correct unwanted dog behavior. You will be able to put the exercises into practice immediately. And you will see good results in no time as well! Here then is 5 ways to correct unwanted dog behavior:
1 – Your dog will bark, but she shouldn’t bark excessively
All dogs bark, of course. It’s only when a dog barks incessantly, and for no apparent reason that it becomes a nuisance. Dogs also vocalize in other ways. They sometimes whine, growl or howl, as well as bark. In order to correct excessive vocalizing, it’s important to know why your dog is doing it.
When a dog barks, it is because they are:
- Warning or alerting you about someone or something
- Excited or wanting to play
- Seeking attention
- Feeling anxious for some reason
- Responding to the activity of other nearby dogs
Your dog can be trained to be quiet. Before you start, choose a single word to indicate to your dog that she must be quiet. The word “quiet” works well, but any other word will work well too. You should have some treats prepared, something your dog really likes.
“…create a situation to make her bark…”
Next, create a situation to ensure that your dog starts to bark. Have someone knock on the door, or ring the doorbell, for example. Just create a situation guaranteed to make her bark.
When she starts barking, acknowledge the fact by checking for the reason. Look out the window, for example, to see who is at the door. Then go straight to your dog, get her attention, perhaps by holding up a desirable treat, and as soon as she stops barking, give her the treat.
This procedure should be repeated several times. Try to wait for slightly longer periods of quiet each time before giving her the treat. Once you have established that only by being quiet will she get the treat, introduce her to the word you chose to let her know to be quiet.
“…when she starts barking, say the quiet word to her…”
Repeat the ‘someone at the door’ procedure, or whatever cue you have used to get her to bark. When she starts barking, say the quiet word to her in a firm but upbeat voice, while holding a clearly visible treat.
As soon as she stops barking, give her the treat. Keep the training sessions brief and meaningful. Once she understands what the quiet word means, and when she responds properly, you should wean her off getting a treat every time.
Start to praise her with great enthusiasm instead. Make her feel special for responding to your command properly. You can still give her a treat occasionally, but she has to understand she won’t always get a treat, but she will always get praise.
2 – Your dog shouldn’t rush out the door as soon as it’s opened
Most dogs will naturally rush out of the door as soon as you open it. This is not a good situation. If your garden gate is open, for example, the dog could run out into the street and into the path of a car.
Dogs rushing outside can also frighten other people, perhaps the postman doing his rounds. For this reason, you should train your dog to never rush out of the house as soon as the door is opened.
Before you open the door, train your dog to sit a short distance from the door. Make clear eye contact with her and be firm. Then open the door, making sure she stays in a sitting position. In this way, you stay in control of the situation.
When it is OK to let her go outside, use a release work, perhaps “OK” or some word that she understands to mean that it is now acceptable for her to go through the door. This training shouldn’t take too long to achieve.
3 – Your dog should know when to simply ‘leave it’
Dogs naturally have an inquisitive streak. They will often pick up things they come across, and this unwanted dog behavior is not always acceptable in public.
Train her to not immediately pick up things by setting a biscuit, or something similar, close to her, but tell her to “leave it”. Make her sit and not move. She may go for it anyway, in which case you need to start over, letting her know in strict terms that she should not do that.
When she gets it right, and she will eventually, give her a treat that is even better than the one she was not allowed to pick up. She will quickly associate the words, “leave it” with her not being allowed to pick up whatever it is.
If you continue to train her in this for several weeks, she will only pick up things you approve of. When she goes for something lying on the ground, or the floor of your house that you don’t want her to have, the words, “leave it,” spoken firmly with authority, will stop her immediately.
4 – Begging is unwanted dog behavior…
This is something that commonly happens at the kitchen table. Unfortunately, all too many dog owners encourage it to happen. Giving a dog table treats and scraps can lead to obesity or digestive problems. It should not be encouraged.
It’s best to start breaking this habit by training your dog to go to its ‘special place’. This should be a place where she cannot see you and your family eating. It’s probably best if her ‘special place’ is in another room.
At meal times, and before your family all sit down at the table, your dog should be told to go to her ‘special place’. This will allow you all to eat in peace.
If she does what she is told properly, then give her a treat, but only after you and your family have finished the meal and left the table. This will give her an incentive to do what she is told every time.
5 – Your dog shouldn’t jump up on people, including you
Jumping up on people comes naturally to dogs. Puppies do this to their mother’s, simply because they are smaller and jumping up is their way of reaching higher. It is often an attention-seeking behavior.
Pushing the dog away, or taking hold of her paws and setting them on the floor, is giving her attention. It is best to simply turn from her and walk away. Do not make eye contact. Just ignore her.
When she relaxes and remains calm and still, give her a treat. Repeat this simple training for as long as it takes for her to understand that jumping is not to be tolerated.
If you wish, you can say a curt and strict, “No!” when she jumps up. This is a useful reinforcement word to use if she jumps up on visiting guests, for example.
“…repetitive training works best…”
Repetitive training usually works best with dogs. They are generally quick to learn as they are keen to please. Always praise her when she gets it right. Never shout at her when she gets it wrong, but you can show your displeasure by ignoring her.
Remember, dogs are pack animals. You are the pack leader in her eyes, or at least, you should be. She will always want to please you, which should make training a lot easier.