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Does Your Dog Have Any Bad Habits?


A friend told me this week about a dog that was going to be surrendered to the SPCA because he had the bad habit of urinating in the house. This is obviously an annoying habit but one that can be controlled with some time and patience. Sometimes the habits that our dogs develop are not their own fault and making slight modifications to our routines or schedules can help to improve some of these issues.

Here are a few annoying habits you may be experiencing with your dog and some tips to help improve them.

Begging at the table

When this happens, try feeding your dog in his crate or in a room with a gate at the door. You can also give him a chew toy and turn a radio on to distract him while you are eating to keep him busy. In addition, make sure that you don’t give him food from the table. If you want to give him some of your meal, place the food in his bowl with his regular dog food. If you have taken obedience training with your dog, practise the ‘down stay’ command by putting your dog on a mat or pad while you are eating and then feed him when you have finished eating.

Chewing

Puppies urge to chew usually starts around teething time and they chew because it feels good. Try giving your puppy ice cubes which will help to relieve any pain associated with teething. Dogs tend to chew a variety of things such as shoes, paper, toilet paper and furniture and they normally start chewing things because they are bored. In fact, in general, dogs get into trouble when they are bored. For most things, simply remove the object so your dog does not have access to it. Put shoes in the closet, paper in a drawer and close the door to the bathroom. The best way to control unwanted chewing is to exercise your dog, supervise him when he is loose in your house and have a variety of appropriate chew toys for him. If your dog is chewing the furniture when you are not home, then use a crate or place your dog in a room with a gate blocking his exit.

Jumping on the furniture

This can be an annoying habit especially if your dog sheds. If you want to keep your dog off the couch , try using a training collar and a short leash in the house and when he jumps on the couch, pick up the leash and direct him off the couch while giving him the command “off”. Then as soon as he is on the floor, give the command ‘sit’ and then physically praise him or use a small treat to reinforce your command. Avoid using the words no or down. No is a word that is commonly used and down could indicate a command for lay down. You can also use the ‘off’ command to get your dog off your bed.

Stealing food

Most of the time dogs steal food simply because it is available to them. If you have a large dog, it would not be difficult for him to jump up and take food from your kitchen counter or table. The easiest way to correct this problem is to make sure there is no food left out to tempt him. If you are defrosting something for dinner, put it on a plate and put it in your microwave or oven until you get back. You can also practise the ‘leave it’ command and this is another situation where the use of a crate would be beneficial.

Urinating in the house

If you are having this issue with your dog, the first thing you can do is take your dog to the vet to make sure it is not a health issue. Once you have ruled out this possibility, consider how often you walk your dog. Walking your dog allows you to see where and when your dog has urinated instead of letting him out in the back yard on his own without supervision. You can also try removing his access to water about 3 hours before you take him for his last outing before you go to bed and by not filling his bowl as full throughout the day. This is also another problem that can be helped by using a crate. Just be sure to give him an appropriate chew toy (like a kong stuffed with peanut butter) to keep him busy while he is in the crate and turn on a radio as an additional distraction.

Are you experiencing any of these issues with your dog? Obedience training can help you to control your dog in many different situations. Give us a call and arrange for an in-home assessment or come out and watch one of our obedience classes.

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