Our canine companions can bring us a lot of joy with their funny antics and dedicated loyalty. Unfortunately, the good sometimes comes with some bad, namely in the form of unpleasant behaviors. To deal with such bad behavior, visit the vet to rule out a medical issue before taking steps to teach your pup some obedience lessons, and determine the cause behind his issues.
Whenever your pup starts acting strangely, whether it be nipping you out of nowhere or destroying your couch, the first place to go is to the vet’s office, recommends Vetstreet. Your vet can determine whether a medical issue is to blame, causing your pup pain, discomfort and anguish, and spurring him to act in ways he usually wouldn't. For instance, a urinary tract infection could be the cause of your pup's excessive elimination in the house. Once treated, these behaviors usually stop. Depending on the severity of the unwanted behavior, if your pooch seems to be healthy, your vet might recommend medication to calm him or help with behavioral modification. This is useful especially for instances in which the behavior results in aggression and even biting.
Figure out what could be causing your pooch's bad behavior through some detective work of your own once you've seen the vet. For example, does someone ringing the doorbell result in excessive barking and excitement? Does your pup seem destructive only when you're not around to pay attention to him? Observe your pooch for triggers that set him off. Use a pet webcam that records your pooch throughout the day to help you determine the causes of destructive behavior when you're not around to supervise him. Once you realize what could be causing the behavior, you can take measures to counteract it through training or by making adjustments to your canine companion's environment, according to Dogster.
Provide chew toys for a destructive pup, especially one that suffers from separation anxiety. If your pup doesn't have anything to play with, he'll substitute your favorite shoes instead. Exercise your pup daily, especially for a high energy breed, with interactive games and brisk walks to cut down on his excess energy, which can be channeled in destructive ways. Take him out several times a day if house soiling is an issue. Enroll your pooch in obedience classes, such as those offered by your local SPCA or Humane Society, to keep his behavior in line when he gets a bit rambunctious. You can control an obedience pup that responds to verbal commands much more easily than one that doesn't, allowing you to stop bad behaviors, like jumping, digging or leash pulling, in their tracks.
Accentuate the Positive
Use positive reinforcement and treats to help teach your pup basic obedience commands and to encourage the behavior you want rather than what you don't. When it comes to your dog's troublesome behavior, it's best to ignore it or give him a firm "No" only. Yelling, punishing or physically hitting your dog, even lightly, only negatively reinforces that unwanted behavior even more. It also leads to more bad behavior by increasing your pup's stress level, making him fearful and timid around you, or even dangerously aggressive. This is a whole other load of issues you don't want to deal with -- plus, it's just plain cruel to your pooch. When dealing with aggressive behaviors, consult with your vet or a certified animal behaviorist to help determine ways to alleviate such issues, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
- WebMD: Slideshow: Top 12 Behavioral Problems in Dogs
- Dogster: Common Bad Dog Behaviors
- Vetstreet: Bad Dog Behavior: Is it a Medical Problem or a Training Issue?
- Martha Stewart: Fixing Bad Dog Behaviors
- Vetstreet: How to Break 7 Common Bad Dog Habits
- Tulsa Pets Magazine: Whose Fault is Bad Dog Behavior?
- USA Today: Chaining Dogs Unleashes Bad Behavior
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Mouthing, Nipping and Play Biting in Adult Dogs
- The Humane Society of the United States: Barking -- Why Dogs Sound Off
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.