Bad Dog Habits (and How to Break them)

Bad Dog Habits (and How to Break them)

All dogs chew, it’s totally natural and should be expected and encouraged. Not only is chewing an outlet for pent up energy, it’s great for keeping teeth and gums in great shape. But, it’s important to teach your dog what’s appropriate for chewing and what is not.

To curb inappropriate chewing, rather than punish your dog for chewing on something forbidden, like your shoes, the furniture, a wall… keep plenty of appropriate chew toys and treats on hand and redirect him to an appropriate object. To reinforce appropriate chewing, reward your dog for chewing on a toy with praise and small training treats each time he makes the right chewing choice. Also, remember that puppies will chew to relieve sore gums, so offer toys made especially for teething puppies. And, if inappropriate chewing in adult dogs continues despite redirection, consider increasing their exercise and providing additional mental stimulation.

Begging

As a general rule of thumb, dogs have a naturally tendency to repeat behaviors that have previously been rewarding for them. If your dog is a beggar, chances are you’ve reinforced that behavior by giving in to those irresistible puppy dog eyes a time or two. To curb begging behavior, you’ll need to be consistent in never, ever feeding your dog from the dinner table or from your snack in front of the TV. Your dog will eventually learn that begging is not rewarding and will stop the nuisance behavior.

In addition to never giving in to begging, consider training your dog to lay down, go to his bed, or into a crate during your own meal and snack times. You can reinforce this by offering your dog a bully stick, or other long-lasting chew treat while you’re eating. Or, plan your dog’s meals around your own, so that he’s peacefully eating from his bowl while you’re peacefully eating from your plate.

Digging

Digging is a common complaint among dog moms and dads, despite it being a perfectly normal, natural behavior for many dogs. Curbing this bad habit requires first understanding the reason behind it. Your dog may be digging to find a cool, comfortable place to rest on hot days, or likewise, to find warmth on a cold day. He may be digging to find prey, like ground squirrels, lizards, or rabbits whose scent he’s tracked. He may be digging to escape, out of boredom, to bury prized possessions, or, well, because he simply likes it.

If your dog is digging to cool off, provide him with a more comfortable place to rest, indoors or on a cooling mat. If he’s digging to track a scent or out of simple boredom, distract him and offer an alternative form of play instead. And, if your dog simply loves to dig, why not create a special area of the yard where this behavior is acceptable, such as in a sandbox or a bordered section of the yard. Just remember to always reinforce good behavior with praise and/or treats.

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