Dogs bring great joy to their owners – love, companionship, fun and a raft of health benefits. But sometimes our four legged friends display behaviours that are inappropriate, problematic and just downright annoying.
It’s important to remember that from a dog’s perspective, many of these are natural behaviours that are perfectly normal and acceptable, yet to humans they present an issue. Natural dog behaviours are often energetic, playful, rowdy and destructive. Humans, on the other hand, generally require calm, quiet and well behaved animal companions.
Some of the most common annoying dog behaviours include –
- Jumping Up
- Pulling on the lead
- Not coming when called
- Destructive behaviours like chewing and digging
The good news is that there are solutions to these annoyances and with better communication and some reward based training you can modify your dog’s behaviour to help them become a well mannered family member.
We’ve all been the victim of an overzealous doggy greeting. It’s understandable that an excited dog might to want to get up close to receive a cuddle or attention and jumping up is a dog’s way of achieving this. But jumping up, especially when the dog is large, wet, dirty, or for any number of other reasons, can be really annoying.
The best way to teach your dog not to jump up is to completely ignore the behaviour. So, when they jump, turn away from your dog, keep your hands by your side and don’t give them any attention until their four feet are firmly planted on the ground. When this happens, be sure to reward with treats for not jumping.
Meanwhile, work on your dog’s SIT/ STAY routine using lots of treats as rewards. Your dog can’t jump up if they are sitting. Teach them that when they are sitting, this is the time they will get treats, greetings and attention.
Barking is a common problem that has the potential to annoy not only you, but also others around you. Barking is a natural means of communication for dogs, but it can quickly become annoying.
You need to work out when and why your dog barks; it may be when people walk past your house, or when someone comes to the door, or it may be when your dog is left alone. Many dogs bark because they are bored, anxious or territorial.
Provide your dog with plenty of physical and mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Ensure they have toys to play with when you’re not around and consider keeping them indoors. Some dogs will bark less when they can’t see the stimulus. Never yell at your dog when they bark and aim to prevent barking right from the start by rewarding relaxed and calm behaviour.
Pulling on the lead
It’s no fun being dragged around by a dog that pulls on the lead. Dogs generally love being taken for a walk, but some untrained dogs become accustomed to straining against the lead and taking their owner for a walk. A large dog pulling on the lead can be so unpleasant that owners become reluctant to walk the dog, then on the rare occasions when the dog is walked they become so energetic and excited that the problem exacerbates.
Trying using a Halti or Gentle Leader- these give you a lot more control dog of your dog’s head than a traditional collar or lead. You can also try a No Pull Harness.
Not coming when called
Lack of recall is not only annoying, it’s dangerous. Some dogs think that everything around them is so much more interesting than their owner that they don’t feel inclined to return when called. A dog not coming when called can create real problems especially if it happens in public places or near roads or children.
Never let your dog off the lead if they don’t consistently come when called. Consider using an extra long lead line when training a recall and always carry treats or have your dog’s favorite toy. You need to perfect your dog’s recall in an enclosed environment first. Call your dog from a short distance and at random times, reward them with praise and food or a game when they come to you. At first, reward your dog every time they return when called, and then as they become more consistent you can gradually reduce the rewards.
Digging and chewing are normal dog behaviours that become a problem when they happen in the wrong situation. Destruction of garden beds, shoes and furnishings are classic and potentially costly issues confronting many dog owners, especially the owners of puppies and adolescent dogs.
The easiest way to prevent destruction of valued items is to remove those items and/or ensure the dog can’t access them. Provide safe and engaging toys for your dog to chew such as a KONG toy stuffed with food and frozen over night.
Designate a secure area by closing off rooms or use child safety gates to limit your dog’s access around the home. Temporary fencing can help keep dogs out of garden beds and away from temptations like freshly turned soil and automatic watering systems.
These behaviours often stem from boredom, so increase the daily amount of exercise your dog receives and try to exercise them immediately before leaving the house.
Always remember that many of the behaviours that annoy you are natural behaviours for dogs. Just as you need to teach your children to use the toilet, eat with cutlery, read and write, it’s up to you to teach your dog how to behave around your home and when out in public.
If you have a dog that has some naughty behaviours, sign up to Dr Katrina’s online dog training course at www.petlovers.com.au