As far as undesirable doggy behaviors go, chewing and barking certainly rank among the most popular. Most dog owners have answered the door to the ticked off neighbor complaining about the noise and found one of their favorite shoes in pieces. Both behaviors are instinctive, so it’s essential to remember that you’re battling against a dog’s hard-wiring when trying to correct these problems. However, you can fix both behaviors with a combination of prevention and cure.
Put down a variety of chew toys. If you leave a dog with no appropriate outlet for chewing, it’s only a matter of time before boredom -- or teething pain, if you have a 6-month-old puppy -- gets the better of him.
Play with the toys. This creates a positive association with the chew toys in your dog’s mind.
Praise the dog when he voluntarily shows an interest in the toys. This helps him learn that chewing these objects has a positive outcome.
Collect the toys after an hour or so. It’s important that your pooch learns that you control his access to toys and that chewing on them is a special treat, not an ongoing right.
Find an old scarf or purse that you don’t mind getting covered in slobber. Put it down on the floor next to a chew.
Wait for Lucky to notice the presence of new objects on the floor.
Praise Lucky as soon as he so much as sniffs the chew treat. Clap your hands and say “no” if he goes for the scarf.
Wait an hour after the chew session is over and put the scarf in a new place. Wait for Lucky to spot it. If he ignores it, give him lot of verbal praise and a food treat. If he sniffs it, distract him. Here you’re reinforcing in his mind that ignoring his urge to chew your items has a positive consequence.
Identify the cause of the barking. Observe Lucky for a few days and work out what sets him off.
Note his body language, which will give away the reason he is barking. If he’s wagging his tail and has a relaxed stance, he’s most likely excited. If his tail is still and pointed out and he’s growling too, he’s most likely barking because of nervous aggression.
Desentize Lucky to bark triggers. For example, if he barks at the doorbell, ring the doorbell once an hour. Once you’ve sounded the bell, act totally normal, as if nothing is happening. If he barks at other dogs, have a friend bring around her dog to play so Lucky can get used to other dogs.
Put Lucky on a leash and give him verbal praise. Giving praise now means you can withdraw it if he barks. This is called negative punishment.
Expose him to the bark trigger. Use what you learned when observing Lucky’s behavior to anticipate when he’s likely to bark.
Lavish Lucky with physical fuss and praise if he abstains from barking, then give him a food treat. If he fails to abstain and barks, simply withdraw the praise and guide him away for a time out.
Items You Will Need
- Chew toys
- Food treats
- Never punish chewing retrospectively. If you find a chewed up purse or shoe, you've already missed the opportunity to distract and discourage.
- Consistency is key when discouraging any unwanted behavior. You'll only confuse the dog if you let indiscretions slip.
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