It isn’t all that uncommon to hear dog owners complain that they have a ‘problem dog’ and that they don’t allow him or her to be alone in the house or in the house at all. Some dogs are destructive while others jump on visitors, take food, bark, howl, sit on furniture, pull too hard on the leash and countless other problems. While many dog trainers will say that the dog owner is most likely the cause of the problem, there are a few things that dog owners can do with their dogs to try and alter or completely stop undesirable behavior.
Contrary to popular belief, dogs like to do things that they consider fun! Did you know that stealing your food, jumping on you when you have your arms full of groceries and napping on the sofa is just plain fun? Your dog likes to do what he or she wants and will continue to do so unless shown that it is not acceptable in a productive way. When taking these steps to help your dog learn better behavior, you will need only two things: a leash and a collar. These are a pet owner’s most effective training tools and will be useful throughout your dog’s life.
Many pet owners have a problem with dogs jumping up on family members or visitors. Your dog believes that by jumping on your or your friends that he or she is showing you how much you are loved. You have two choices when trying to deal with this behavior. First of all, you need to anticipate that your dog will jump on you before it actually happens. Place your clenched hand out in front of your body (just a bit from the center of your body) and lean forward. As the dog jumps and hits your hand, give the command “off” or another appropriate word. Make sure your had is out far enough or your dog will simply push into it. Your dog will not like the feeling of your hand and will think twice before jumping again. The other option is to place your dog on a leash before people enter your home. Say “off” as the visitors approach. If your dog jumps, jerk him or her back. If possible, ask your visitors to step back and approach again. Tug downward on the leash and say “off” again before allowing the visitors to approach. Repeat until the dog is obeying and offer praise.
Another problem many owners complain about is when their dog barks. If a dog is kept outside alone for any amount of time, he or she likely barks at anything that disturbs or upsets them without reprimand. It can quickly become a habit for the dog. A little bit of barking isn’t something you can control and is quite natural for many dogs, but excessive barking is a habit that can be dealt with. Your dog should be on a leash when he or she begins to bark. Simply say (not shout) “quiet” and then firmly jerk the leash upward. If he or she continues to bark, hold your dog by the scruff of its neck with both hands, look into his eyes, firmly say “quiet” and give him or her a few fast but firm shakes. You are not hurting your dog- you are simply doing the same thing his or her mother did when he or she was a puppy! Your dog will respect you for this instead of a different, frightening act.