When it comes right down to it, dogs can be rather uncouth. Stealing food from the counters, chewing on your favorite shoes or barking at every guest you have, are all bad habits dog owners must deal with. How can you break your dog of these problems effectively?
If you are like most pet owners, your first response is likely to yell, “No!” or “Bad dog,” but experts have found that punishment doesn’t work. Instead, you need to be proactive.
For dogs that struggle with chewing on things they shouldn’t chew on, giving them appropriate chewing items, and redirecting their behavior when you catch them in the act, can help. Remember, chewing is a natural way for dogs to clean their teeth and reward boredom, you just need them to chew the right things.
Barking is another natural behavior that you need to learn to redirect. It is completely normal for your dog to bark at a supposed intruder, so when the doorbell rings, you can expect to hear some barking. To break this habit, give your dog a mat near the door, and reward him for sitting quietly on the mat. This takes time, but can be very effective if you are consistent.
Stealing food off counters is one of the hardest bad doggie habits to break. The reward, a tasty table food morsel, is built into this behavior. Teach your dog the “drop it” command when you are playing, and then use this when you catch him with food. Whenever possible, remove the temptation by not leaving food out, and you will have a much more pet friendly, peaceful home.