Let’s face it. Every loving dog owner wants to offer his four-legged friend the best there is. We respect every nutritional need, take him out regularly and show him (or her) lots of love. However, we sometimes unwittingly encourage bad habits that drive our pets (and us) completely nuts. Sometimes these habits develop slowly as the dog matures and, more than often, a single unchecked action can signal to your canine that he’s allowed to do it. Preventing bad behavior is truly a challenge that needs time and attention. Let’s take a look at five bad habits that your dog might be forming and methods to get him back on the right track.
1. Jumping on people
Your dog may be jumping happily when he sees you seems like a cute way to show affection, you tend to encourage him with laughter and stroking him. Thus, your dog learns that this action pleases us and will continue to do it regardless of the outcome. When he’s grown up, he might be heavy on your child and dirty for your clothes.
In order to prevent this habit, you shouldn’t have any reaction whatsoever when you see him jumping. Wait a few seconds after he’s finished and then you can safely interact with him without risking habit formation. If you’re having guests, you should use a leash to stop his paws from touching their clothes. Be careful, though. Too much of it and your dog might become anti-social.
2. Begging during dinner
“Puppy-dog eyes” is an expression that is usually used on humans to describe a cute gaze. A dog usually has a warm and affectionate personality. It’s impossible to resist your dog’s affectionate eyes. Our tendency to share our food with our pooch stems from the fact that we care about them. You don’t know what’s best for your dog if you’re doing that. Sure, an occasional snack can’t spoil him too hard, but regularly feeding your dog while eating yourself will only show him that begging works and he might skip his nutritious and healthy breakfast.
Instead of sharing your food with your dog, you should give him something to chew on to keep him busy while you’re eating. Find a chewable toy that will keep him distracted and be careful to disregard any attempts (like barking or biting) to get you to feed him from your plate.
3. Tug-of-war with the leash
Surely you’ve noticed the busy attitude that dogs exhibit when taken outside. They act like Wall-Street brokers hurrying to close the next deal, with you as their number one obstacle that’s holding them back.
When they’re pulling you towards them and you pull back, they might interpret that action as a signal to walk forward and that will lead to a competition between your muscles and theirs.
The goal is to teach your dog that battling for control isn’t the way to go. When your dog pulls, just stop, wait for him to come to you, reward him verbally or with a treat and resume walking with him by your side. Reward him every time he remains close to you and soon he will know that that’s the place that he has to be.
4. Barking when requesting something
A dog that barks and expects to get what he wants is acting like a boss. You don’t want that. If you offer him what he wants, just to make him shut up, then you’re on your way to fueling an aggressive attitude. What’s he going to make of this? That being aggressive will get him what he wants.
To start that correction, you should install a process in which he must politely request without barking. For example, if you’re bringing him dinner and he barks at you, walk out and show him that, if he’s aggressive, then you’ll do exactly the opposite of what he wants.
Puppies inevitably go through a phase in which their teeth start growing and they tend to bite everything that comes in their way. Even though it’s an uncomfortable period for us all, it’s usually short-lasting if you know how to handle it. Nevertheless, it’s easy to disregard this aspect and let him chew away at your couch or at your neighbor’s leg. It may be difficult to correct such an action when your dog has already formed this habit into adulthood. If you’re mindful of the times that he does it and yell “Ouch!” in a high-pitched tone every time he uses his teeth to communicate, then you’re well on your way to fixing this destructive attitude.