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March 13, 2011

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Correcting Unwanted Behaviors

When getting a dog, every owner has a picture perfect image of what life with their new pup is going to be like. You imagine a compassionate, quiet friend that loves long walks in the park, snuggling up on the couch and playing fetch. You don’t imagine an aggressive barker that runs away every chance he gets, an animal more content with ripping the couch apart than snuggling on it or an excavator that would rather dig up your yard to hide a ball than to catch it.

When it comes down to it, the perfect pet is a rare find. Even with years of training the “perfect” dog, that understands every obedience command in the book, can still be a runner, a digger, an overeater. Playing a vital role in the relationship between pet and owner, behavior can either create a strong bond between to two or ruin it. In the United States, behavior issues are one of the biggest reasons for abandonment and euthanasia of dogs. In fact, statistics show that the number of pets euthanized for behavioral reasons is more than it is for all medical reasons combined.

Understanding why your pet is acting out

stop bad behaviorKnowing and understanding exactly why your pet has a behavioral issue will help you find the proper way to correct him. While there could be a number of environmental factors plaguing your pet (the need to be the alpha dog, stress, a reaction to something new in the home), his issues could be ingrained in his DNA. Every animal has a specific set of instinctive behavioral patterns that meant to help them survive in nature.

Reactions to predators, danger, unfamiliar surrounding, abandonment and more are ingrained in your dog. Formed through a mixture of natural selection and breeding, researching behavior problems common to your dog’s breed may shed light on why he is having issues.[ii] For dogs with major behavior problems, it is advisable to seek help from a behaviorist. After evaluating your pal, a behaviorist can help you identify why your pet is acting out and how to treat him. You may only need to change a few things in your home, but it may also be suggested that you seek professional training. Click here to find a behaviorist near you.


dog obedience trainingFirst and foremost, your dog needs consistency while training. The “perfect” pet needs to be able to recognize that it is almost time to be fed, play, go outside, sleep and more. By keeping him on a schedule you may begin to get rid of some of his behavior issues. You also have to be consistent when training and correcting your pal. Commands should always be the same or you may confuse him. Also, when correcting bad behavior you have to do it while he is doing that behavior.

For example, if your dog is not allowed on your bed only correct him while he is on the bed. Waiting until he is down or in another room will only confuse him. By being consistent in the manner you train your pup and with the tools you use will help your dog learn faster. If considering group of private lessons for you pet, read up on how to choose the right practice for you. If you will be doing to training, there are many tools you can utilize for specific behaviors. One of these is using a remote trainer.

Available in all different shapes, sizes and correction types (typically spray, static, ultrasonic, and vibration) remote training combined with positive reinforcement can help you un-teach bad behavior faster than many other techniques. Other great training devices include products like the Gentle Leader, which can help tame his dominance issues, and interactive toys, which will keep him mind off chewing up your shoes, can be great tools to un-teach bad behavior.

Landsberg, Gary M, et al. Handbook of Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat, Volume 1. London: Elsevier Saunders, 1997. Print  
[ii] Hart, Benjamin L, et al. Canine and Feline Behavioral Therapy. Aimes, Iowa: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. Print.

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