Did you know that undesirable behavior is the leading cause of owners relinquishing their dogs? However, according to veterinary science research, around 72 to 85 percent of dogs exhibit what are considered “problem behaviors.”
Problem behaviors can refer to anything that ranges from normal canine behavior (e.g., barking) to behaviors that have medical or behavioral pathology. If your pet struggles with anxiety or medical issues, you may need more in-depth strategies for addressing those behaviors.
However, what about normal canine behaviors such as jumping, barking, or even chewing? You can easily address these behaviors using simple strategies. The key is consistency.
Are you ready to learn how to improve your dog’s behavior? Keep reading for eight simple strategies that work.
1. Hire a Trainer
One of the simplest ways to improve your dog’s behavior is by working with a trainer. It’s easy enough to type “dog trainers” into a search engine to find a dog trainer near you. However, before you do that, remember that not all dog trainers are created equal.
Some dog trainers specialize in certain behaviors and ages. In addition, every dog trainer has a different training philosophy. Make sure you agree with their philosophy because you must follow through with the different techniques at home.
2. Address Energy Levels
If you have a high-energy dog, it might not be getting enough mental or physical stimulation. Some dog breeds considered high-energy include the following:
- Border Collies
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Siberian Huskies
- Cattle Dogs
- Australian Shepherds
However, this isn’t a comprehensive list. At a minimum, dogs need 35 to 40 minutes of exercise daily. But you should aim for at least 60 minutes and, for some dogs, longer.
This can include walks, playing fetch, or other activities. The important thing is to help them drain their energy.
3. Reward Good Behavior and Don’t Inadvertently Reward Unwanted Behavior
Positive reinforcement is the best way to encourage the behaviors you want your dog to exhibit. When your dog responds appropriately to commands, reward them.
However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you also need to be careful not accidentally reward unwanted behaviors. For example, if you want to teach your dog not to jump on people, petting them when they jump on you would be a bad idea. That will teach them that they get attention when they jump.
Instead, you should turn away and not acknowledge the behavior. Your dog will soon learn what behaviors get them attention and which ones do not.
4. Choose the Right Reward
When we discuss rewards for dogs, many people often think of treats. However, that won’t always be the case.
Some dogs are indeed very food motivated; for those dogs choosing a high-value treat could be very beneficial. However, other dogs are not food motivated, and that’s okay.
For those pups, try giving them extra affection when they display the wanted behaviors or play together.
5. Be Consistent
If you’re a parent, you know that with your children, consistency is critical. If you’re a fur parent, the same rings true.
Dogs need consistency. When you send them mixed messages, they don’t know how to respond. This is the difficult part if you live in a house with multiple people.
Here’s why: everyone in the house needs to be on the same page. If mom doesn’t allow Fido on the couch, but dad does, Fido will not learn that he shouldn’t be on the couch. It becomes confusing and makes training more challenging to address problem behaviors when you’re sending mixed messages.
6. Break Down the Behavior Into Smaller Steps
Have you ever tried to teach a dog to spin in a circle? It’s a fun trick but a bit advanced. However, if you do your research, you’ll find that most trainers recommend teaching the trick in stages.
You start with a treat in your hand and work to get the dog to spin by following your hand in a circle. Eventually, you work your way up to the point where you simply move with your hand, and your pup spins.
When you teach basic behaviors; you can use a similar concept. For example, if you are teaching your dog recall and want your dog to come when called, reward them even when they take only one step towards you.
This is a building block you can work on, and eventually, you can get your dog to return to you from further distances.
7. Use Your Hands
While we’re not quite sure what language dogs speak, we know it’s not English. Many dogs respond better to commands when you pair them with a hand signal.
You can use the hand signal and verbal command together, and eventually, your dog will learn what both mean. In addition, with so many people working remotely, this provides another benefit. You don’t have to interrupt a phone conversation to give a command; you can simply use the hand signal.
8. Make Sure Your Dog Isn’t Bored
Imagine this: you’re left in a house alone for hours at a time while others head off to work. You have nothing to do to kill time, so instead, you have to use the objects around you or just sleep the day away.
Bored dogs can struggle with problem behaviors. That’s one of the reasons exercise is so important. However, this goes beyond exercise.
You also need to provide mental stimulation for your dog. This can be in the form of games or even special toys. For example, there are toys that you can fill with treats, and your dog has to move them in certain ways to get the treat out.
You can also teach dogs who need more mental stimulation fun tricks like spinning in a circle. Work with them to practice their tricks and keep their minds occupied.
Simple Strategies to Improve Problem Behaviors
Are you ready to see an improvement in your dog’s behavior? Try out some of these simple strategies and consider finding a trainer near you to help. But remember, consistency is key!