How to correct bad behavior

“Puppies are constantly inventing new ways to be bad. It’s fascinating. You come into a room they’ve been in and see pieces of debris and try to figure out what you had that was made from wicker or what had been stuffed with fluff.”

Julie Klam – You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness

Key Takeaway: It is essential to correct any bad behavior exhibited by the puppy. Puppies are full of energy and always excited. It is essential to teach them what is right and what is wrong.

You’ve got a cute, cuddly puppy home and then, the puppy turns out to be a little menace and is creating as much trouble as possible. Your puppy will need to be taught what it can and cannot do. Before you get started with correcting the bad behavior, it will help if you have already taught your dog certain basic commands like sit, stay, come, and down.

Dogs Need Rules

There needs to be consistency in your dog’s life. There need to be a few ground rules too. All the family members should use the same method for training or disciplining the puppy.

A dog, regardless of its age, will do as it pleases if not trained. You will always need to stay calm and composed whenever you are correcting your dog’s behavior. You shouldn’t yell, scream, shout, or hit the dog.

You don’t want your dog to fear you.

Training Your Puppy

Basic obedience training can help in correcting any form of bad behavior. Your pet should be trained so that he understands the basic verbal or hand commands.

This should be done when your puppy is about three or four months old. In basic training, all the commands that you have read about in the earlier chapters should be included.

When your puppy is about 10 weeks old, you can train it to sit. There are obedience trainers as well who can help train a puppy as young as 10 weeks. An added benefit is that these classes will help your puppy to socialize with other dogs as well.

Common dog behavior problems are:

● biting / chewing

● jumping onto people

● playing rough

● begging

● excessive barking, and

● digging

Let’s take a look at each of them.

Stop Your Dog From Biting and Chewing

It is very natural for the puppy to make use of his mouth when he is playing. He probably did this with his litter pals, and it is also a dog’s way of asking the other dog or person to back off. Puppies tend to have really sharp teeth. Whenever you are playing with your puppy, you will definitely want to discourage biting or mouthing in any form.

The way in which you can do this is by letting out a little cry and saying something like “ouch”. This will startle the puppy and desist what he’s doing.
Praise him whenever he stops and you can give him a chewy or a toy as a replacement. If the puppy does have his teeth in your hand, then just let out a loud cry and don’t pull away. This will make him stop biting. Praise him immediately when he does so. This will let him know that you are happy that he let go of your hand.

You will have to correct any inappropriate chewing that your dog engages in.
Puppies love to chew, especially while teething. Leather shoes and furniture happen to be soft targets. Invest in good chew toys and edible chewable items.
This will help your puppy to understand what he can and cannot chew on. He will slowly but surely catch on to this and understand what is expected of him.

Stop Jumping

When a dog gets excited, they tend to jump on you. Your dog may get excited when you come home, if visitors come over, or even while taking a walk in the park. There are several different ways in which you can get your dog to stop doing this. The best manner in which you can correct this is by making use of the “Off” command. You can train your dog to do so in a very simple manner.

Get one of your family members or your friends to simply walk in from the door.

Your dog should be collared and should be kept on the leash. When there is a knock on the door, make your dog walk till the door and keep a short hold on the leash so that the dog doesn’t jump on to them. When he does try to jump, then in such a case, you should tug on his leash and say “off” and then say, “sit”. Once he is sitting and isn’t trying to jump, then praise him for being a good boy. The other way would be to simply ignore your dog and not make any eye contact. Do this until your dog settles down, and once he does, you will have to praise him.

Stopping From Playing Rough

When your dog starts playing rough, things can quickly go out of control and the situation can get dangerous. You shouldn’t ever encourage your dog to attack you or any body part of yours. This might be adorable when your dog is a puppy, however it could hurt someone else.

Whenever you are playing any game that uses force, like tug of war, then in such a case you should teach your dog “drop it” so that he stops what he’s doing. You can say, “drop it” and stop pulling. This should help. If it doesn’t, then you can say the command, get up and leave. He will realize that by playing rough, you will not play with him.

Stopping From Begging

Your dog is probably by your side all the time. Especially when you are eating something. The dog would probably just sit and stare at you, begging for food.
Most common reason for this is that you have perhaps in the past encouraged this behavior unknowingly. You probably would have given him something that you are eating and he thinks that it is okay for him to beg.

You can stop this behavior by feeding your dog at the same time that you are eating, removing him from the room where you usually eat. You can place him in his crate or keep him outside the house. Whenever he begs, a firm no and asking him to sit and stay will help. Correcting this form of behavior will take some time. So, be patient and persistent while correcting him.

Excessive Barking

You will have to teach your dog a really important command and that’s “speak”.

Get him all worked up by offering a treat and tell him “speak”. Whenever he barks, give him a treat for doing so. Once he has got the speak command right, move on to teaching him “quiet”. Get him to speak first, and don’t give the treat right away this time. Instead hold it in your hand and say “quiet”. Whenever, he desists from barking, give him the treat. Therefore, he will associate being quiet with earning a treat.

Dealing With Digging

Digging is an instinctual behavior for dogs. Many tend to dig a spot just to escape from the heat and stay cool. There are different ways in which you can stop this behavior. Vigorous exercise will help in tiring him out and he won’t dig. You should confine him to the kennel in the yard or any area that is fenced off so that you can keep an eye on him. As soon as he starts digging, you can reprimand him.

Place chicken wire around the hole(s). The feel of the chicken wire will discourage him from digging and he will stop it. You can also fill up the holes with his own feces and then cover it up with soil. Dogs don’t like the smell of their feces. So, this would work. If you happen to have some room in the yard, then you can teach him about the areas where he is allowed to dig. At times, dogs tend to dig holes to just bury their bones. If that’s the case then don’t allow him to eat his bones in the yard.

Get Some Professional Help

Whenever you have got any problems correcting the behavior of your dog, then there are certain professionals who can help you with your dog. Consult your vet to rule out any health reasons that might be causing your dog’s bad behavior.

Your vet can also help you in getting in touch with dog trainers.

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