When something goes wrong, it’s easy to blame the dog – after all, he can’t speak to defend himself! However, many times we humans inadvertently cause the very things we are trying to stop our dogs from doing. If you’ve made some of the mistakes listed below, don’t worry–we all have! The good news is that you can make some changes, but first, you have to be informed!
Here are some ways you may be accidentally encouraging your dog’s most annoying habits:
#1 – Reinforcing bad behavior
Obviously no one wants to reinforce bad behavior, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do it. For example, leaving food out where your dog can steal it teaches him he’ll get goodies when he counter surfs. Petting your dog when he jumps up on you but then getting mad when he tackles your grandmother is another example – you petted (rewarded) him for jumping up on you, he doesn’t know the difference. Another good one is letting him out of the crate when he is barking because you think he needs to go to the bathroom. Even if he does, you need to wait until he is quiet.
#2 – Not giving your dog enough exercise
A lot of dog trainers have the adage “a tired dog is a well-behaved dog.” And while it’s not 100 percent foolproof, giving your dog proper exercise can go a long way in preventing bad behavior that is caused by boredom, such as chewing on your couch or barking at nothing.
#3 – Not training them enough
If you are not training your dog then you can’t expect him to behave well – why would he? You’ve never taught him anything different. And it’s not a “train once and your dog has it for the rest of his life” deal. You need to keep it fresh in his mind and do refreshers when necessary to make sure he keeps his manners. It would be like if someone asked you to do algebra 20 years after high school, you probably won’t get it right unless you use it for your job.
#4 – You don’t have rules
One day you give your dog a piece of meat as he puts his paws on the counter, the next day you are screaming at him. Tuesday he is allowed on the couch, Thursday you push him off. He doesn’t understand and so he is going to continue to do what he wants, whether you like it or not. Rules make sure your dog has clear boundaries and he knows how to behave.
#5 – You don’t enforce the rules–with other people
Rules are not worth anything if you don’t enforce them and I am not talking about enforcing them on the dog. Every person who comes into contact with your dog needs to know your rules and enforce them as well. If all your friends allow your dog to jump on them, then your dog is going to continue to jump on everyone. Not requiring everyone to follow your rules will derail any training you are doing.
#6 – You only bring attention to bad, not good behavior
Think back to when you were a little kid. When you are young and playing quietly, your parents never come over to you and say “good girl, you are playing nicely with your toys.” However, the minute you get up and start drawing on the wall, you are getting the three name yell from across the room as they run toward you. If you are only giving your dog attention when he is bad, he will be bad to get your attention. Instead, you need to highlight his good choices with praise and attention, even treats, so that behavior is reinforced.