Did you know that behavioral problems are the number one reason dogs are surrendered to shelters or are euthanized? It's true. So dog behavior training is a big issue for most dog owners.
In today's world, a dog's place has changed. Dogs no longer have duties and jobs. Instead, they spend their entire day waiting in crates, apartments or fenced yards for their owners to return home from work, just to be able to spend some time together and hopefully go for a nice walk. This is one of the biggest issues for dog behavior problems. A dog will find plenty of ways to get into trouble when he is bored or lonely, so make sure your dog has plenty of diversions to prevent boredom.
If you have a dog that is behaving badly, you need to correct the problem; but to do that, you need to understand your dog's behavior. The most important thing to remember is that a dog is a pack animal. Your dog sees himself as part of your pack. That's why it's so important for you to lead him and make him understand that you are the leader of the pack. If you allow your dog to continue with certain dog behavior problems, he will think that he is the alpha dog, and your dog behavior problems will continue.
The Dos and Don'ts of Dog Behavior Training
When it comes to dog behavior training, the most important thing to remember is that punishment doesn't work. In most cases, the dog will not understand what he is being punished for. He will simply try to hide the behavior and your problems will continue.
Changing dog behavior problems isn't quick and easy - it can take weeks or months of dog behavior training to achieve. The most important thing to remember is that any attention rewards your dog - good or bad. If you are trying to change your dog's behavior, remember that punishment doesn't work. To stop bad dog behavior problems, you must respond to the behavior in the right way. If you yell at your dog when he does something bad, you are still giving him the attention he seeks and telling him that his bad behavior paid off.
The key to dog behavior training is not to allow your dog to be rewarded for bad behavior. Instead of yelling, give your dog the chance to succeed and reward him when he does. For instance, if your dog is jumping up, tell him to lie down - and when he does, give him a treat. This is the type of positive reinforcement that will eventually stop bad dog behavior. Your dog wants to understand what you want him to do, but it will take patience and time to make your wishes clear to your dog.
The longer you let a problem behavior continue, the harder it will be to correct. With dog behavior training, never ignore the problem. It is important that you be aware of the problem and address it right away, every time you see it. If you occasionally let the dog perform the undesired activity without addressing it, the training will take longer and it will be more difficult to stop the behavior. Be persistent. Be patient. Be consistent. This is the way that you will change problem behavior issues in dogs.
How to Deal With The Most Common Dog Behavior Issues
Here are some dog behavior training tips on how to deal with the most common dog behavior issues.
Inappropriate Chewing - Dogs explore their environment with their mouths, so chewing is a very natural behavior for dogs. Chewing on its own is not a bad thing. It can help relieve boredom or stress, and it can help keep your dog's teeth clean. The key is to get your dog to chew appropriate items. So if you find your dog chewing on your shoe, redirect his chewing to an appropriate item, like a stuffed Kong toy or a chew toy. It is also important that you remember to praise your dog for selecting the appropriate chew toy.
Digging in the Yard - The activity of digging is extremely rewarding to dogs. Your dog may be digging because he catches a scent in the area, or he may simply want to release some energy. If you don't want your dog to dig holes in your yard, redirect his digging activities. Give your dog a sandbox or section off a portion of the yard where it is okay for him to dig. Reward your dog with treats and toys to make this new digging spot more exciting than his previous spot.
Begging at the Table - Consistency is the key to stopping this behavior. It is important to make sure that no one in the family feeds the dog at the table. Try to distract your dog from your meal times by giving him an appropriate activity like enjoying a food puzzle.
Barking at the Doorbell - Your dog might bark at the doorbell because he is anxious or excited about visitors. Some dogs believe that their barking is what makes you open the door, so by barking they are trying to train you. Redirect your dog's attention from the doorbell. Get your dog to sit quietly on the doormat and wait for you to open the door by rewarding this behavior with a treat.
Urine Marking - Dogs urinate on things to mark their territory or to leave messages for other dogs. This behavior is totally acceptable outdoors, but when your dog engages in urine marking inside the home you've got problems. When you catch him urine marking in the house, interrupt the activity with a “no” and take him outside immediately. When you get outside, reward or praise your dog for urinating outdoors. Also, to prevent your dog from continuing to urinate indoors in the same spot, use a good enzyme cleaner to remove the scent.
Dog Behavior Training: When Is It Time to Seek Professional Help?
Dog behavior training can be challenging for both you and your dog. If you are not quite sure about how to go about dog behavior training on your own, or if you are having continued issues, it may be time to contact a dog behaviorist. Some problem behaviors get to the point where they are almost impossible for the average owner to handle. If you need help, seek the help of a professional dog behaviorist. This is especially important with issues like aggression and separation anxiety.
A dog behaviorist is someone who loves animals and has studied them to better understand their behavior. They understand why a dog does things and acts in a certain way. They look at the dog's environment and try to discover what has caused the problem behavior. They look for reasons why the dog is acting out. A dog behaviorist is usually someone with advanced education in dog behavior and cognition and they have much more experience working with significant behavior concerns than your average dog trainer. A dog behaviorist focuses on scientific dog training methods to solve behavioral issues like aggression and fear.
You may need a dog behaviorist for a number of reasons. Your dog may have a medical problem that's gone undetected. Another animal in the home could be making your dog feel uncomfortable. Your dog could have a fear of thunderstorms.
Your dog may have picked up these behavioral problems before coming to your home. Or, dog behavior problems could be associated with a specific dog breed that isn't a good fit for the home.
Problems could arise when a dog has had no training or inconsistent training and he may be confused by what the owner expects from him.
The dog behaviorist visits the home to observe how the dog and his family interact with each other. After observing the home environment and the dog-human relationship, the dog behaviorist can help the owner with changes in the dog's environment to help improve the dog's behavior. A dog behaviorist will also work with veterinarians if medication is needed for a medical condition.
All dog behaviorist are not created equal, so you will need to do your part to make sure you connect with the right person. You should make sure that the dog behaviorist has experience and knowledge in working with your specific behavioral issues.
If your dog has a behavioral issue, start with your veterinarian first to rule out any medical concerns. Your vet can recommend a qualified dog behaviorist in your area who can help you deal with non-medical problems.
For more information about behavioral issues, go to Common Behavior Problems in Dogs.
To learn more about dog behavior, go to our article Understanding Bad Dog Behavior.