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How to Stop Five Bad Behaviors in Dogs

By Brandi Barker
Updated: 2010-02-09 10:16 PM 2576 Views    Category: Health and Behavior
 
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Chewing

It can be costly and very troublesome when a dog chews inappropriate items. Prevent unwanted chewing behavior by keeping forbidden items away from your dog. This can be done by storing tempting items in a closet or confining your dog in a space where no chewing has occurred. Introduce appropriate chew toys

Make sure your chosen chew toys do not resemble items in your home. Plush toys are not a good choice in a home with a lot of stuffed animals. Keep 2-3 toys down for your dog at one time and rotate them often so they remain novel.  Once your dog learns to happily gnaw on his or her chew toys, you can begin to give more freedom. 

Knocking Over the Garbage Can

Chicken bones, paper towels and empty treat containers are very compelling!  Once your dog has a garbage can feast, the behavior is tougher to prevent because it has been rewarded.  You can train an automatic "leave it" by placing something mildly enticing on top of the garbage while you stand close by. If your dog begins to walk towards it, interrupt the behavior with an "ack" or "uh uh", immediately reward for good behavior.  You will need to practice this with varying items and multiple levels of difficulty to assure your dog knows the trash can is off limits.  A stainless steel trash can make the trash less appealing and providing your dog with adequate mental and physical stimulation can go a long way to prevent trash seeking behaviors.

Pulling Too Hard During Walks

Dogs pull on walks because we allow it.  If you truly want to have relaxing walks with your dog, adopt a no tolerance for pulling policy.  Start every walk with a "sit" and eye contact. It is important your dog be paying attention to you before you move forward.  Once you know your dog is focused on you, cue "let's go" and walk forward. Praise and treat as you walk so your dog continues to happily walk with you.  Use extremely tasty treats as rewards, an average dog biscuit is no competition for squirrels, bicycles or dog feces.  If your dog pulls, stop.  Keep your leash glued to your belly button so your dog learns consistent limits.  Never pull your dog back or yank the collar, it does not teach anything.  It will take you much longer to get around the block but the more patient and consistent you are today, the better your dog walks will be tomorrow.

Excessive Licking

Contact your veterinarian.  Food allergies, dental problems and other medical issues can be linked to excessive licking.  Once your veterinarian confirms your dog's health is in order, put the behavior on cue.  If your dog kisses you, say "kiss" and treat. Do that until your dog is reliably "kissing" when you give the cue.  Determine the length of the kiss and reduce it.  If your dog initially "kisses" for two seconds, progress to only rewarding for one-second kisses.  Anything longer, move away.  If you want to reduce it even further, you can then ask for another behavior immediately after the kiss such as a "sit" or "down".  A dding more exercise to your daily routine is another great option.  Licking can be stress related which can greatly be reduced with increased mental and physical stimulation.

Chasing Cars

Teaching your dog to look at you or "sit" instead of running after cars is possible but you must be very diligent in your training process.  I recommend contacting a local trainer to walk you through specific protocols to desensitize your dog to the sound of approaching cars and introduce distractions at the appropriate pace for your skill level. Until your dog's recall and responses are 100% reliable, keep him or her on leash while walking near traffic.

 

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With the last name “Barker”, Brandi was destined to work with dogs! A lifelong animal lover; she formally began training dogs in 2001 when she completed her apprenticeship at the Anti-Cruelty Society. In the classroom, she honed her interpretation of canine body language, developed a toolbox of effective behavior modification techniques and fine-tuned her communication skills with dogs and people while only using reward-based techniques. Brandi completed her Master\'s degree at DePaul University in Developing Behavior Management Practices to Enhance Understanding in Human/Animal Relationships and is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Brandi\'s unique achievements gave her a solid foundation in animal learning theory, ethology and operant and classical conditioning. She uses this knowledge in conjunction with the active listening, relationship development and creative problem solving skills she acquired from a decade in the corporate world. Brandi is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and her philosophy incorporates attainable goals into every day life with a lot of patience, fairness and fun…for humans and dogs.
 
 
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