Tuesday, October 06, 2015

20 things dog owners do that make their dogs misbehave

Many dog owners do not realize it, but an owner’s behaviors actually dictate how your dog is going to act and behave. There are several things to watch out for, so here is a list of 20 things an owner does to cause their dog to misbehave.

 1. Potty Accidents. There’s really nothing worse than walking into a room and stepping in a giant puddle your puppy has left for you. It’s even worse when it’s not liquid that you step into, but did you know that the puddle (or pile) on the floor is less likely to be the dog’s fault, and more likely to be your own? Sure, a dog or puppy is suppose to let you know when they need to go out, but how do you think they learn that behavior. That’s right! You have to teach them. A puppy-in-training should never have free roam of the house, and they should be constantly watched. If you catch your pup peeing, it’s too late. Dog’s do not have the ability to stop mid-stream, so it’s best to schedule potty breaks every so often, as well as taking your dog out after a meal. Never go for more than a few hours without giving your dog the chance to do his business outside.

 2. Nipping. Everyone finds it adorable to have a small puppy chew on their finger, but that cute little game can soon turn into a complete nightmare. By teaching your puppy that biting=playing, you are essentially telling them that it is not only okay to nip and bite, but that it is actually encouraged for them to do so. There’s no real good way to fix this problem once the behavior is learned. Start off by not allowing your puppy near human skin in the first place, especially near little fingers or toes. Don’t rough house with your dog, and they won’t try to rough house when it is unwanted.

 3. Chewing. Your kid comes to you with a half-chewed Batman figure, or maybe a chewed up duplo block, and you tell them they shouldn’t have left their toys on the floor for the dog to pick up and chew. Now, rewind back to 30 minutes ago when you were carrying on about your favorite pair of shoes being chewed up. Or your work boots. You had it right when you were talking to your kid: You shouldn’t have left them in the floor! To a dog, especially a young pup, anything within reach is fair game. If you leave something on the floor while your pup is still learning to only chew on bones, you are going to have a rough time. Keep your stuff out of reach of the pup, and vice versa, and be sure to switch out anything you see being chewed on for a bone or chew toy.

 4. Destroying the house while you’re out. Dogs are just like people. They have needs, feelings, and emotions. One of these is anxiety, and when they are home alone, many dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Just as a child throws a fit when it wants something, but does not know how to say it, so does a dog. This may lead to torn pillows, destroyed cloth, or even to your dog using the bathroom on your couch, floor, or bed. This really isn’t your dog’s fault. If you are giving a big farewell to your dog, and making it into a big thing, you dog is going to feel like it is a big thing, and it can and will cause your dog to become very anxious. Instead, simply walk out the door. If you must say bye, quickly say it, and leave. The less dramatic you make it, the less dramatic your dog will make it.

 5. Barking, snapping, and/or growling at you or family members. Here it is very important to remember that dogs are pack animals. You have to let your dog know that you are the leader of the pack, otherwise, it may very well start to growl at you when you touch its toy, or sit too close to it when it doesn’t want. While some breeds are known to be more dominantly aggressive, chances are that your dog is acting this way because of something you did or didn’t do. It usually isn’t just one action that makes a dog think that it is the leader; it’s actually usually a lot of things. If your dog barks, maybe you give him his toy, or you feed him exactly when he wants to be fed, or you let him go where he wants without any restrictions. All of these things can lead to a dog forming the idea that he is the leader. How do you take back your rightful spot on pride rock? Don’t give your dog what he wants. If your dog wants to be fed or given a treat, hold the food/treat until your dog stops whining or barking. Once they give up and are no longer being demanding, give them the treat. Restrict your dog’s access to certain spots in the house. “Claim” them as your own. Doing this tells your dog that you make the decisions, and therefore, you wear the paws in the relationship.

 6. Excessive barking. How many times has little FooFoo been outside, barking her head off? When you call her to come in, do you call for her all sweet-like? Do you entice her with a treat? Maybe you squeak her favorite toy to get her back in the house? Do you know what you just taught little FooFoo? You taught her that if she barks like a maniac, she gets love, attention, and maybe even a toy or treat. So, how do you get FooFoo to stop barking? Go outside with a treat, or even stand at the door. While your dog is barking, ignore him/her. Once they come over and stop barking, give them the treat. If your dog is good with “quiet” or “no,” then you can use those commands to get your dog to stop barking, and then give the treat. Just make sure you are reinforcing the proper behavior.

 7. Jumping on guests. Your friends or family walk through the door, and the first thing Rover does is jump up on someone. You say, “Oh, sorry. He just likes to say hello.” Then very sweetly you say, “Rover, get down you silly boy!” You have just told your dog that you are thrilled that he is jumping up on people. Instead, have guests come over and provide treats. When Rover jumps up on them, tell them to not react. Have them wait until Rover calms down and sits. Once he sits, then they give him the treat.

 8. Running away when being called back. This one can be extremely frustrating, and scary. There are many ways a dog can get hurt if they get loose, and having your dog run away is never a good feeling. So, you run after him, but he just keeps running. Finally, you decide to go get his favorite squeaky, or a food item, to lure him back. Once he is back, you scold him for running away. What did you just teach him? Coming when called will get him in trouble. Replace this thinking by instead letting your dog free in a safe place. Let him engage in something fun. Then try to bring him back. Once he comes when called, give him a treat and plenty of love. You will reinforce the idea that coming when called is a good thing.

 9. Digging. This one is actually a bit tricky. Dogs do tend to be natural-born diggers, but you also have to be careful about when your dog is digging in relation to reinforcing the behavior. Say GiGi is scratching, pawing, or digging at the ground. Then, you call her to you and give her praise. In your mind, you just praised her for coming to you and being a good girl. In her mind, you just praised her for digging at the ground, and from there, she will be dead set on making you happy about all the holes in the ground. To correct this, either watch your dog very carefully while outside and call him off the digging when he does it, or create an area that is okay for your dog to dig. Teach them to dig in this area by rewarding them when they dig here.

 10. Playing in the middle of the night. This one is totally, completely, and wholeheartedly on you. Dogs are often allowed to sleep whenever they want, which already creates a bad schedule. But how many times did a late-night venture outside to potty become playtime? If you allowed this kind of behavior when your dog was a pup, he/she will continue to do it later in life. The best thing you can do for yourself is let your dog out, and put him/her right back to bed. You may have to endure a few nights of whining, but that beats getting jumped on or having a slobbery toy thrust in your face in the middle of the night.

 11. Begging. No, we don’t mean the “sitting pretty” kind of begging, although they sometimes do that too. We mean the “I’m looking at you. I’m looking at your food. I’m looking at you. Now, I’m whining” kind of begging. Again, this one is probably, in all reality, totally your own fault. Remember when Bailey was a cute, cuddly little puppy, and it was just SO hard to deny her a piece of bread from your plate? Well, that piece of bread has turned into your worst nightmare. The best way to handle this is to not let it happen at all, but if it’s already too late for you, your best bet is to feed Bailey DOG food while you eat. If she won’t have that, ignore her. Dogs will often give up and go eat what is available to them (dog food). If you have small children, it might be best to put Bailey in another room until the meal time is complete.

 12. Stealing food. This one stems from “begging,” but is often different. Stealing food can be very upsetting for the person trying to eat, and devastating to a dog who has stolen a food that is not good for them. It can mean vet visits, and illness. It can also mean ruined family get-togethers. The best way to avoid this is to never let the opportunity present itself. This can be difficult, especially if you have a large dog, kids, and other distractions, but prevention is the key. Give your dog something else to do, and if you must step away from the food, take your dog with you.

 13. Pulling. This one, again, can be a very easily learned behavior. It only takes one time of Fifi pulling on the leash and getting away with it for it to be an utter nightmare. In order to teach your dog to stop pulling, when he/she does, stop right where you are. Once your dog stops pulling and is looking at you, you may start walking again, but if he starts pulling, repeat the process. Eventually, your dog will learn that he only gets to go when you are the one in control.

 14. Car sickness. This one is a little tricky. While your dog getting sick probably isn’t something he decides to do on purpose, you are probably helping in the cause of his upset tummy. Dogs get anxious in cars. In order to help with that, load your dog in the car, and bring treats, a toy, or something else he enjoys. Just chill in the running car for a bit and let him get used to the idea of being in the car. Next, go for a short drive. Up the driveway or around the block is fine. From there, travel a little more each time. Your dog will stop getting sick, and you will stop getting frustrated.

 15. Submissive Urination. Again, this one is more of an instinct, and it’s more of what you’re not doing than what you are. Submissive urination usually occurs when you come home. Little Fiona comes running up to you, and pees right in front of you, making a nice puddle at your feet. She’s not purposefully misbehaving, but rather, she is submitting. This can be very frustrating, but can often be fixed by allowing the dog to calm down before you bend over to pet her, or by distracting her with treats so that she does not urinate on the floor.

 16. HUGE lap dogs. Yes. This is all your fault. You bought that cute little chocolate lab, and you took it with you everywhere, and even as it grew you let it sit in your lap while watching a movie. Then, one day, that full-grown 65 pound, 2-foot-tall lab takes a flying leap off of the floor, only to land square in your lap. I do believe we don’t even have to point fingers here. This is often a hard problem to break, as your dog was taught growing up that he/she was, in fact, a lap dog, and now you’re trying to change the game. The best way to handle this is to 1. stop letting your dog sit in your lap, and 2. designate a spot for your dog to sit. When your dog goes to jump in your lap, instead, direct them to their spot. Give them a treat once they relax into that spot.

18. Constant attention seeking. This is often caused by your dog not getting enough exercise. Dogs need outlets for their energy. Taking them out for a walk, run, or playing a game of fetch can be very stimulating. If you have a big back yard, put stand-along toys up for your dog to interact with. They’ll love it!

 19. Fear-based aggression. Fear-based aggression is often due to lack of socialization with other people, animals, and environments. When a dog feels threatened, they will often times revert to aggression. You only feed into this more by only taking your dog out when absolutely necessary. In order to break this cycle, start off my gauging your dogs aggression. If you believe your dog might bite someone, get a muzzle to prevent any accidents. It’s best to start off with just a few people, in your own home. Once your dog is comfortable with that, start taking your dog out and introducing it to the world.

 20. Marking. This one again, isn’t so much of what you are doing, but rather, what you are not doing. By allowing your dog to mark in the first place, you basically gave your dog full permission. This is also instinctive, so the best way to keep a dog from marking is 1. Have your dog spayed or neutered. This fixes a lot of problems with marking. If this doesn’t work, try to keep the scent of other dogs out of the house. A dog won’t mark over a scent if it’s not there.

Ten Rules of dog training

I am so sorry I do not know the author of this.  I would love to give them all the credit.  This is very good.

1. Your dog needs a leader, if it can't find one, it will try to do the job itself

We put our dogs in a world that they can not possibly comprehend completely. We make them follow rules that do not make natural sense to them. The least we can do is be a good guide and mentor for them. This means we let them know who's in charge. Don't project negative feelings on me because of that last sentence just because you might have a crappy boss at work. When you know there is someone who knows what they are doing, is confident in their abilities, and is able to do the job in a leadership position, it sets you at ease. The same goes for your dog. If your dog does not find you to be a meaningful leader, it will assume that role itself because; well... somebody's gotta do it. But they'll make choices that make sense to them, which are incompatible with the world we have them live in. Out in the wild, it would make sense to guard your resources as a matter of survival. It would make sense to pee and poop wherever you want so long as it's not where you sleep or eat. It would make sense to run away from things that are a bit scary and to fight off things deemed a threat. None of these behaviors are compatible in our society. If you want your dog to conform, you better be ready to show them.

2. Make it exactly what you want, from the first repetition to the last

Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. When placed in a situation where your choices are to make an exercise easier or lower your standards for performance, you should ALWAYS pick the former. Whether you are looking for a straight sit at the end of a recall or working through growling and lunging on walks, find the point where your dog can do it right and move forward from there only as quickly as they are able to maintain the standards of the exercise.

3. Fix one problem at a time

Small issues build up to bigger ones. Most problems on walks and anywhere else, are solved before you leave the house. If your dog can't sit still while you put their leash and collar on, they won't wait nicely at the door. If they can't wait nicely at the door, they won't walk nicely at the beginning of the walk. And if they can't walk as nicely during that first block, the rest of the walk won't be any better. Well, maybe after they're exhausted, the walk gets easier, but a TIRED dog and a TRAINED dog are not equal. 

4. If it's not right at your side, it won't be right anywhere else

A dog that can't sit still by your side will never be able to walk nicely by your side. Reactivity, over excitement, aggression... the solution for EVERY THING starts with being able to do nothing. A dog that can't do nothing won't be able to do much. Tethering, benching, place, sit on the dog, crating... there are many exercises that can help teach a dog to find internal and external comfort, to self calm, and that they don't need to respond to every little thing that happens in front of them. Dogs, like people, need a clear mind to learn. 

5. If it's not right on leash, it won't be right off leash

Does your dog jump on guests, get on the furniture, not come when called...? "Are they on leash?" is the first question I always ask.
Go to meet someone at the door, have the dog on leash, step on the leash so that there is enough slack that the leash won't get tight unless the dog's front feet come off the floor. Now open the door. The dog will be restricted from jumping. Wait until they stop trying and then ask for a sit. Allow your guest to pet them once (and only as long as) they are seated. Rinse and repeat.
Dog jumps on furniture. Dog doesn't listen when you tell them to get off. Just grab the end of the leash, and pull them off. Don't sling shot them across the room, just turn and walk with leash in hand and take the dog with you. Rinse and repeat.
Dog is in the back yard. You want to call them to come inside, and of course, they respond with "No." Attach a long line (15-20 foot leash) to the dog's collar and make sure you are holding the end of it before you call them. Give the leash a little tug and reel them in like a fish.  Give them something really good (their favorite treat, a game of tug, whatever they like) . Rinse and repeat. 
Here's where people go wrong: they only do this for a week or so. Do it (every single time.) until you don't need to actually use the leash (you never have to pull them, stop them, reel them, guide them), and then keep the leash on for 100% of the time it took to get to that point (so if it took 4 weeks to get to the point where you don't ever have to use leash pressure, keep the leash on for another 4 weeks). Dogs are natural gamblers. If they "win" one of these exchanges once, they'll continue to place bets. Make the result inevitable until you are sure your dog isn't calculating the odds. 

6. Always have a recovery area

Another important thing I learned from the "The Koehler Method of Dog Training",  dogs tie all kinds of feelings (which drive how they act) to a place where something happens. If you are working your dog through some kind of trouble spot, and they are stressing out or losing steam and enthusiasm, move to a different location and do something easy that you know they will get right to show them how easy it is to be successful. You don't need to get in your car and drive somewhere else. Here is an example, I was working a dog on downs on a training table (pause table for you agility peeps) and the dog fought me a bunch, major resistance to any amount of leash pressure. I took the dog to another table less than 10 feet away and did a sit (something the dog 100% for sure knows and would respond to) and lavishly reward them for it. Went back to the first table and the dog melted into the down like buttah! This is seriously as close to magic as you'll ever come to in dog training.

7. Quit while you're ahead

Always end your sessions before you've completely exhausted the mental capacity of your dog. Sometimes we drill something so much that our dog loses steam and we take offense. Really, it's the dog that should be offended, that you're a jerk who can't recognize they did their best the last 50 times you asked for something and now they'd really like to take a nap. Particularly when your working on something that has been a real sticking point for your dog, when they nail it, stop. Don't "reward" that success by demanding 100 more of those things, whatever they are, in the same session.

8. You have to go back to go forward

Remember rule #5 way up there? That doesn't apply only to the house, or the back yard. It applies to ANY new situation you put your dog into. This is particularly important when people are moving into the proofing phase of training a behavior. So even if your dog is 100% perfectly reliable off leash in your yard, when you go to a new place or work around new stimuli, start on leash and make sure everything is just right before moving forward.

9. Under stress, animals go back to what is most familiar

When a dog is aroused in any way they typically revert to whatever behavior is instinctual or the strongest habit. It does us no good to only train in relaxing environments, or by avoiding things that typically trigger them. We have to work through those situations. The only way to teach a dog to cope... is to make them cope. This doesn't mean throwing them into the deep end, but it does mean that you need to train behaviors to the point of habit, under the same circumstances where they would usually fall apart (once foundation work has been completed, and by working up to those situations methodically) if you want to really resolve issues. If you still have any second thoughts about how your dog is going to act in a situation, you have more work to do.

10. Do not give a command you can't (or won't) reinforce

Going back to #5 again, where I said dogs are gamblers. People go through 6 weeks of a group class and think they're done. Their dog "knows" sit, and stay, so they use those words while they sit on the couch at the end of the day. The dog blows them off, but they are tired, so they let it slide. Congratulations! You just made 10 times more work for yourself.

Keep the dog on leash so it's easy to follow through. And think before you tell your dog to do something. If you aren't going to be willing and/or able to follow through, you'd be better served by crating them (managing their behavior by limiting their options and not allowing the opportunity for them to do something wrong). 
And a bonus... 
11. Always train, never test
Tests are fine for kids in school. Not for dogs. Whenever you are with your dog, get it in your mind that you are not testing them to see if they are going to do the right thing or the wrong thing. You are, instead, going to give advice and guidance... as much as necessary, but as little as possible... always. This is an important thing to get in your head. I've said this in front of group classes before and literally seen an immediate change, a softening in handling, a release of tension, and an overall more understanding attitude from clients. The actual actions (leash pressure, corrections, praise, everything) don't actually change. But the attitude and the vibe the person is giving off makes a major difference to the dog.