Preventing Unwanted Behaviours
More and more I am called for help with behaviour issues for puppy’s and rescues. Resource guarding, snapping at people, ignoring their owners, refusing to walk, the list goes on and on. As a trainer, I want to get to the root of the problem to figure out the cause of the behaviour(s). In the initial assessment I often sit with the owners and observe the interaction between them and their dog. For many, the issues are a direct result of the owners inadvertently spoiling their fur baby.
Here are some examples of owners inadvertently spoiling their pups:
Stop carrying your puppy or dog everywhere. Aside from the fact that they could wriggle out of your arms and get hurt, carrying them creates several unwanted behaviours.
- These pups tend to guard their owners, not allowing others near them. This can be dangerous even with a small dog.
- They often refuse to walk on leash – why walk when someone can carry them.
- Carried pups have higher anxiety when left alone. Separation anxiety is very common with these pups and can be more extreme than a dog who is not carried around by their owner.
- Many pups who are carried all the time are less confident of the world and show little or no socialization skills. Their world is unexplored, and they require a great deal of help to overcome fear and uncertainty.
Do not feed from the table!!!
- Sharing your meal with your pup is not only unhealthy for them, but also creates a sense of entitlement. The attitude of what’s yours is mine is quite common.
- Dog’s who are fed from the table often counter surf – they do not respect the fact that not everything is theirs. Counter surfing can be a dangerous habit. Dogs don’t differentiate so a hot stove and a countertop seem to be one and the same. They can also overeat causing major health issues like bloating, choking or injury.
- Pups who are fed from the table are less likely to work for treats making basic obedience training more difficult.
Stop making excuses for poor behaviour or disobedience. If your pup is ignoring you when you say sit or down, runs through the house destroying everything in their path or use your favourite rug as a bathroom you have a problem.
- Puppies and dogs start learning the minute they enter your home. If there are no rules or restrictions, they will do as they please.
- Saying “he’s just a puppy” is not reason for destructive or ignoring behaviour. Remember, what they learn early on, good or bad, may become an unwanted behaviour throughout your dog’s life.
- Dogs crave structure. Allowing Fido to shred your pillows, soil in the house or steal your socks can create a bossy dog, resource guarding and other behavioural issues.
Do not give your new pup free rein of the house! This sets the pup up for failure. They do not know the rules, and, in most cases, will make bad decisions.
- Tether your new canine to you with a leash when they are not gated or crated. This helps you keep an eye on them which is great for correcting behaviours and speeding up the housetraining process.
- As your pup learns the rules and respects the house, let them earn freedom one room at a time. If they do something wrong like eating the couch or peeing on the rug, that room is off limits for a week and their indoor world gets smaller.
- Do gate or crate your dog when unsupervised to keep them out of trouble and safe from harm.
Stop ignoring poor behaviours like resource guarding, soiling in the house, and not obeying commands.
- Teach your puppy that good behaviour gets good things. If they sit on command reward. Praise the pup who asks to go outside to pee. Celebrate coming when called.
- Sit means sit, down means down. If your pup is ignoring basic obedience commands, try using a higher value lure to create that “give and get” for example, give me a sit you get a yummy reward.
- Get help! Proper structure and training can help you avoid many unwanted behaviours! Take your pup to training classes, hire a trainer, subscribe to myowndogtrainer.com. There are a ton or resources out there for dog owners
Remember, the best thing you can do for your dog is to train them. Positive reinforcement, follow through and socialization make for a great canine companion. Training also builds the relationship between you and your dog, creates mutual respect and understanding. The behaviours you think are cute as a puppy are not so cute in an adult dog.
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