Guest Post by Fiona Appleton
We humans, most often, overlook our actions and blame our dogs for the imperfections. What if I question you: Have you been training your dog right? Did you reinforce specific behaviors in your dog?
This article will definitely make you question your reactions to your dog, that were done consciously or unconsciously. In reality, they might have paved the way for the dog to develop some unwanted behaviors.
1. Fearful Behavior:
A dog becomes confident or fearful most commonly at puppy stage when his mind is most impressionable. Most dog owners fail to read the obvious body language of a fearful dog that involves tail tucked in, ears dropped backward, raised hair of the back, hiding, and sometimes jumping up to get cuddled in lap. If a dog’s fear gets ignored, it will turn into aggression in adulthood.
If you cuddle up your dog when he is scared, you are promoting his fear. On his first interaction with large dogs, if he came back running out of fear and you cuddled him up to hide him; he will repeat the behavior to get your attention. It might make him anti-social and reserved as he thinks it’s good behavior.
You should teach confidence to your dog by making him face those fears. Reward him in various ways for bravely facing them. Appreciate his little efforts towards perfection. He will eventually overcome them, and will not get reactive.
2. Food Stealing Behavior:
If you had left food on the table, and your pooch was able to find that tasty reward, he will return to get more. Some dog owners find it funny and cute at first and don’t try to stop their little poodle. The consequence? The table and counter surfing will go on when you are looking away or are busy with other house chores. This behavior is life-threatening because the dog may nibble on some human foods that are dangerous to dog’s health-chocolate, ginger, avocados, yeast, macadamia nuts, raisins, onions, etc. The dog requires training for not picking up food off the counter. Rather than laughing at his behavior, catch him red-handed and stop him. Otherwise, he can steal food from neighboring tables at the restaurant, or anywhere else you take him.
3. Unnecessary Punishments:
Dog owners promote disobedience too. Some dog owners, themselves, punish the furball as soon as they follow their command. How? They command their dog “come” and when the dog complies; they put the dog leash on. They may put him in the bathtub or into the crate immediately as he obeys the owner. This way the dog parents are discouraging the dog from following the commands because you immediately punish—on an apparent level—the dog.
Do you fear to visit the strict teacher, who always punishes you, in his office? Similarly, the dog will fear to follow your commands and disobey you.
Train your dog indoors first, and praise him even for the baby steps he takes towards you. As he makes way to you, appreciate him and provide a treat. Once he is trained, start training him outdoors. Show consistency in rewarding his behavior always, and don’t immediately put him on the leash or in the crate, etc.
4. Jumping, Whining, and Pawing:
There are certain behaviors that dog owners find harmless initially and encourage the pups to repeat them. These excited behaviors include pawing, whining, and jumping. As the dog ages, the behaviors start appearing irritating and bad.
It gets irritating when the dog jumps at you while you are wearing the best suit for a meeting, or whines when you are busy with someone else or paws you constantly when you are talking to someone important.
What you can do to ‘untrain’ the dog is that start ignoring the unwanted behavior. The dog will get discouraged to continue the behaviors when they find no response or negative response to the action. Praise your pooch when he is behaving calmly.
5. Etiquette of the Leash:
Dogs who act like pack leaders continuously pull on the leash to make the owner move forward. Dog owners promote the behavior when they follow the commands of the dog and let him guide them. It creates a false image in dog’s mind that he is the pack leader.
However, it’s unbearable to have your dog pulling on the leash when you have stopped for awhile to talk to a friend or neighbor. Start training them to walk on the leash from the beginning, so they get used to it. If you prefer a harness for your pup, Mighty Paw sells a Sports Harness that is comfortable for your pooch.
To discourage the inappropriate behavior, stop whenever he pulls on the leash. Call him back using treats and praise him for walking close to you on a loose leash. The more you appreciate the good behavior, the more he will try to repeat it. It is ‘positive reinforcement.’
6. Nibbling and Chewing Behavior:
Puppies start chewing on everything that they come across when they are teething. They nibble on human hands as well. Being painless, dog owners often overlook the bad behavior that’s developing. Small dogs are usually encouraged by not pulling the hand away.
However, it can be hurtful for kids at home. It’s better to pull away your hand when he bites, and make a loud, painful sound. Ignore the pup for a while if he continues to bite.
Repeat the ‘ouch’ sounds, pulling of hand, and short moments of ignorance to discourage the behavior. Give the dog chew toys or bones to nibble on and distract him with playful activities to exhaust all his pent-up energy.
If he is an anxiety-prone dog, excessive chewing can be a consequence. Involve him in physical and mental activities.
Fiona Appleton is a Labrador owner. She is the manager of ultimatehomelife.com that has been developed to help people solve the troubles of pet ownership. She is an active advocate of animal protection campaigns. She wants people to understand that dog-behavior is reflective of our behavior.