Like humans, dogs can pick up some bad habits as they grow. Lucky for us, it’s easier to break a dog’s unwanted behavior than change our own. Dogs learn by association. They are bound to repeat an action that is rewarded.
To break a dog’s bad habit, make sure that they only get a reward when they do the opposite. Below are five of the most common bad dog habits—and how to break them.
Chewing, especially in puppies, is not a bad thing. Dogs chew on things to release some pent up energy. Not only that, it keeps their teeth and gums in good shape. But to everyone’s annoyance, dogs often chew inappropriately—destroying plants, cushions, and shoes in their paths. Your dogs must learn what objects are meant for chewing and what is not.
Instead of punishing them for inappropriate chewing, give them chew toys and treats to distract them. Practice positive reinforcement, every time they choose to chew on their toys instead of household objects, by praising them or giving small treats.
Begging for Food
We know those puppy dog eyes are hard to resist, but if your dog is constantly begging for food in the table, you probably have reinforced that behavior in the past. As hard as it is, you must be consistent not to feed them while you’re at the dinner table or snacking in front of the TV.
Over time, your dog will learn that begging will not give them what they want and will stop the unwanted behavior. You may also train your dog to stay in his bed while you’re eating or plan his meal around your own, so that he will be busy chowing from his bowl while you’re busy eating on your plate.
Running in a Frenzy in Anticipation of Walks
Most dogs love going for walks that a mere site of their owner touching their leash on the wall drives them crazy. Does your dog run and jump around when they sense that you are about to take them out? This habit is not the hardest to break if you are consistent. Though it warms our heart seeing our dog happy and excited, some dogs react excessively that it becomes harder to attach a harness or leash to them.
To curb this behavior, you must break the association they’ve adapted between the leash and your daily walks. Do this by touching their leash a few times a day even when you’re not going out for a walk. They will eventually learn that you holding the leash doesn’t always mean going to the dog park.
Digging is one of the most annoying habits for dog owners. Thought it’s a perfectly normal behavior for canine animals, it’s never cool if they’re being destructive, or if they end up harming themselves. The key is to learn why your dog is digging. Some dogs dig to look for a comfortable place on a hot or cold weather, some look for small preys, such as lizard, rabbits, and mice.
Stop this behavior by addressing the root cause of the behavior. Provide a comfortable place inside the house or distract them with toys and treats. If they simply love to dig, assign a place in the backyard where they are allowed to dig.
Pulling on the Leash
Leash pulling is a common problem that most of us experience when we walk our dogs out; it is also one of the hardest to curb. To train your dog to stop pulling the leash, equip them with a harness instead of a standard collar. This will keep the pressure away from their sensitive throat and distribute the pressure evenly around the body.
If your dog starts to pull, stop from moving forward. If they don’t relax, move to the opposite direction. Do this repeatedly until they learn that pulling will not get them to where they want to go and that they need to stop pulling to move forward.