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Common Behavior Issues at Home

Dogs, like people, come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and personalities.  Living harmoniously with your dog requires a consistent, persistent attitude by you that you are the leader of your dog’s “pack.”  Despite your good intentions and best efforts, sometimes your dog does not learn a behavior you want, or else cannot stop an unacceptable behavior.  Usually the solution lies in properly communicating with your dog so that he understands what is acceptable, and what is not.  Here are a few common behavior problems dog owners experience, along with some helpful tips.

Red Rover Come Over.

Q: “My dog won’t come when I call him.  Why is he ignoring me?  He used to come every time I called him.”

A: Your dog may have figured out that every time you ask him to come, all the fun he’s having is over.  He may believe that coming to you will mean no more playing outside, it is time to go in his crate for the night, or some other negative association.  To change his perception, ask him to come, praise him for coming to you, then let him return to whatever he was doing.  He’ll soon learn that coming to you pleases you, but doesn’t mean he loses his freedom.

Give Me a Potty Break.

Q: “I cannot get my new puppy housetrained.  She potties in the house on occasion.  I have tried rubbing her nose in the mess and scolding her, but nothing is working.  What can I do?”

A: First of all, scolding a dog or rubbing her nose in a mess after the fact will backfire on you.  Your dog will not make the association that you are upset about the potty accident, but will simply grow nervous and scared in your presence, and may become unwilling to potty outside for you………because when you and she and potty are all together, you are upset.  Only say “no” if you catch your dog in the act of a potty mistake, and quickly take her outside to her appropriate potty place.  Praise her lavishly for relieving herself in the correct spot.  Be consistent with the praise and make sure she is taken outdoors frequently to minimize potty mistakes indoors.

No Paws, Please!

Q: “My dog jumps all over my guests.  Why won’t she listen? While my wife and I don’t mind her paws on us, we cannot get her to stop jumping on other people.  We push her down, but she won’t stop.”

A: Your dog wants attention when she jumps on you.  Any kind of touching by you, even to push her down, gives her what she is craving:  your attention!  Don’t touch her at all when she jumps up.  Turn your back on her or step back so she and you make no contact.  Ignore her and do not touch her until all her paws are on the ground. Also, by being allowed to jump on some people (you and your wife) and not others (your guests), she is getting mixed signals.  Set the same standard for everyone so she gets the message clearly: no paws on anyone and no petting until all of her feet are on the floor.

Chewing My House to Pieces

Q: “Our puppy is chewing up everything we own: shoes, clothes, the newspaper.  You name it.  He has destroyed it.  I gave him some old socks and some old sneakers, but he prefers my good tennis shoes or my husband’s loafers.  He even chewed up a waste basket.  Will this ever stop?”

A: Until your puppy matures, his need to chew and teethe will be extreme.  He needs good chew toys that are age and size appropriate for him.  Kong type toys, as well as nyla bones are good choices, as well as hard rubber toys you can stuff with treats that will keep him occupied for longer periods of time.  Shoes and personal items of clothing are not good chewing choices, as your puppy cannot distinguish between old items you deem “acceptable” and newer, more valuable items that are not acceptable.  A shoe is a shoe……… him. Be sure to puppy proof your house.  He should not have access to your valuable belongings until he is older and can be trusted.

There are several great resources available to you should you have other behavior questions about your dog.  A website we highly recommend is:

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