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Bad Behaviours Pet Owners Encourage

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It’s challenging to stop bad behaviours with a strong reward history. Sometimes these behaviours develop as your dog matures. Sometimes, it’s a single episode where your dog learns that these behaviours “work” and it’s a learned behaviour. If your dog has been getting treats off of your plate every time he whines, it could take double the time to “un-train” that behaviour.

We’ve collated some pet-parent encouraged problems, along with tips to make them go away!

Excited Jumping Up

A demonstration of unconditional affection is a dog leaping on you wagging his tail with excitement. Many owners nurture this behaviour from puppyhood through patting, laughing and encouraging. He soon learns that we like him jumping over us. That is until he grows into an adult…

Your dog loves interacting with you this way so it can be hard to change a habit of a lifetime. Jumping can be a nuisance and dangerous especially if you have children in the house. To deter jumping, ignore this behaviour, this includes telling your dog off when he jumps on you. Instead wait for a moment of calm with all four paws on the floor and offer a reward in the form of interaction. If he jumps up again, turn your back until he stops, then resume contact.

Leash Pulling

Adventures are everywhere and no matter your dog’s age there are always places to go and things to see! You’re keeping him from the next adventure! Pulling is a ”creep up” behaviour. As a puppy we often allow them to pull every now and then. Without realising the dog learns that a tight leash means to go forward. That feeling of tension around their necks becomes the set point for walking.

You need to re-teach your dog that pulling never works and a loose leash is the way forward. Prepare for longer walks! Whenever your dog pulls, stop walking, wait for him to look back at you and offer a reward.

In the event that every distraction outside is better than a treat, the reward can be to continue walking. Give your dog intermittent treats and praise for remaining by your side as you walk. This reinforces that walking close to you is the best place to be.

Food Begging

Begging Dog

If your dog has been getting treats from your plate it could be hard to un-train. We know it’s hard to resist those “puppy eyes” when your dog gives you that look that seems to say, “I’m starving, please feed me”. Sharing food with your dog comes from a place of love, but the reality is your dog sitting next to you while you eat!

Try and find something fun to occupy your dog, a doggy treat or a stuffable interactive activity toy? If your dog is speedy and finishes before you do and resorts to begging again, ignore him. Be prepared to ignore them more than once, as this will get them to process that they will not be getting anything.  A challenging part of the re-training process, but it’s usually a sign that you’re almost at the finish line, so don’t give up.

Attention Barking

So, he wants your attention. But the cute puppy barking has developed into demanding barking to get his own way. Having a bossy dog and giving into their every demand plays into your dog’s paws and keeps this pushy behaviour.

Teach your dog manners and show him that asking nicely, gets him what he wants and loud barking will get him nowhere. A good starting point is to use the “say please” plan and to retrain your dog to ask for everything he wants. Get him to sit before you throw the ball, or put his food bowl down, reinforces to your dog that barking never works. If he barks at you to throw the ball, ignore him and do something else. Your dog will soon learn that barking makes you do the opposite of what he wants.

Nipping & Biting

Puppies go through a predictable nippy stage when they’re teething. This is a right of passage for any puppy parents, and if deterred, should end within a few weeks.
 
Nipping past an acceptable age, the adult dog thinks its okay to communicate to us through biting. Allowing an adult dog to communicate with his teeth blurs the lines of acceptable behaviour.
 
Although it’s harder to unlearn behaviour in adult dogs the same approach if training a puppy.
 
The moment your dog’s teeth touch you say “ouch!” in a firm sharp voice and walk away from him. If your dog mouths you while you’re playing with him, say “ouch,” drop the toy and walk away. The pairing of the “ouch” marker and removal of attention should let him know when he crossed the line.

Need to get dog insurance? Our nose-to-tail lifetime dog insurance protects your dog for illnesses, injuries and medical emergencies*. With a Pet Protect policy, you don’t need to worry about expensive vet bill that may arise in the unfortunate event that your dog has an accident or becomes ill. You can rest assured they will be treated with the care they deserve, for as long as they need it.

By Jennifer Nash

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