Your dog is a valued member of the family and you love him unconditionally – there’s no question about that. That should also be the very reason why you need to encourage good behaviour in your pet.
There will be times when your little four-legged bundle of happiness will test your patience. Bad dog habits are common in any breed, but that doesn’t mean you should tolerate them.
On the contrary, it is in your pup’s best interest if you make a conscious effort to correct such behaviours. After all, being a pet parent goes beyond just buying dog treats online and taking walks in the park – it’s also about making sure that your pet is doing well in a more holistic sense.
That said, you may be employing some strategies that are not working — or worse, are reinforcing unacceptable habits instead of curbing them. In this case, you should rethink your strategy.
To start, here are the six most common bad dog habits and some proven ways to stop them:
Imagine this: You’re lounging on your sofa after a long day. Suddenly, your pup breaks the silence with an eardrum-shattering bark. He continues doing so until you finally give in and pet him to stop the irritating noise.
You may be thinking that you already corrected the issue since he stopped barking. You’re wrong.
Veterinary behaviourists explained that what you just did made matters worse. You rewarded your dog with attention, sending him the message that he did a good job when you actually meant to stop him from making too much noise.
If you truly want to stop the barking, resist the urge to respond. What you can do instead is to look for the trigger and try to tone down its impact.
Here are some things you can try doing:
- Downplay outside sounds with white noise using your TV or radio.
- Bring your pet someplace else where he won’t hear the sounds. This is also good for preventing your neighbours from hearing his bark when you’re not around. Don’t feel bad for keeping your pet confined as they actually don’t mind this at all.
- You can also give your dog something to do to stop him from barking, like completing food puzzles for treats or anything that can keep his mouth occupied and his mind entertained.
Even if you have plenty of affordable dog supplies to spare, you must never let any incident of food stealing slide. Like petting your dog after excessive barking, this also sends your furry friend the wrong message.
More importantly, this may increase the chances of your pet gaining access to food that could harm his health, like chocolate, chicken bones, and many others. So be sure to keep human food out of reach.
You must teach your pet to never eat anything off the table. This should prevent him from munching on food that falls on the floor or gets pushed underneath furniture, which could potentially be toxic for dogs.
You can also teach him commands like “drop it,” “leave it,” or “off” and reward him for a job well done during training sessions. This way, your dog would drop or leave anything you don’t want him eating and get off the table when told to.
Begging for Food
Another big no-no for dogs is begging for food. While those puppy dog eyes have the power to tug at your heart strings, never give in.
If you fail to resist this now, you will be dealing with the begging in the long run. You must also remember that controlling the amount of food your dog gets is for his sake, as it is part of keeping him on a balanced diet.
Chewing on the Wrong Objects
Chewing is normal for dogs since this is their way of exploring their environment. It also helps relieve boredom and stress and is crucial to their dental health.
However, there are times when this is considered bad behaviour, especially when your pup decides to make things like shoes and sandals his chew toy. When you catch him doing so, redirect his attention to the right object and praise him for obeying.
If you’re not sure what kind of toy is best for chewing, consult your vet to ensure his safety.
Pulling on the Leash
Ever felt like your arms were being forcibly torn right off the socket after your pet suddenly pulled on his leash with you on the other end? If you have, then you understand why you need to correct this habit immediately.
When a dog suddenly pulls on his leash, it can mean danger for the unsuspecting handler. This could even lead to a road accident or encounters with thorny bushes.
Luckily, you can correct this by:
Reconsidering your equipment
If your pet has the tendency to tug at his leash, it may be best to use different equipment. There are plenty of options for this. The key is to choose pet accessories that:
- Doesn’t impair your pet’s sight and ability to walk
- Fits securely and comfortably
Both a head collar and chest lead harness will let you (or your dog walker) redirect your pet’s moving force back gently.
Learning the right techniques
Even if your dog yanks on his leash suddenly, you can successfully manoeuvre him towards your preferred direction by following these steps:
- Stop walking if you feel that your dog is pulling ahead.
- Wait for him to ease up before moving forward again or turn in the opposite direction.
Urinating in Inappropriate Places
Almost all pet parents have experienced dealing with cats or dogs urinating in inappropriate places in the house. This is normal for new and untrained pets, but it can be quite tricky to correct.
For starters, you must have your pet examined by a vet to remove the possibility of a health issue. Some animals experience frequent and uncontrollable urination due to certain medical conditions like urinary tract infection, kidney failure, diabetes, and others.
Another possible reason your dog is urinating in inappropriate places is that he is marking his territory. It could also be that your pup has yet to learn where to go when he feels the urge to urinate.
Don’t disregard any possibility until you’re sure. Once you’ve pinpointed the cause, correcting the issue would be much easier.
Certain dog habits may seem insignificant, but a closer look will show you that some of them may lead to negative results, ranging from inconvenience to health concerns. Correct bad behaviour as soon as you pinpoint them and ask for help from a vet if needed.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.