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How to Break Your Dog’s Bad Habits

Dogs are fun, and one of their best traits is their enthusiasm and desire to show you how much they love you. If we are not careful, however, we can turn that excitement into bad habits by reinforcing the wrong behavior. Fortunately, if your dog exhibits either of these behaviors, they can easily be redirected.

 

How to Stop Your Dog from Barking

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Have you ever had a nice relaxing moment pierced by the sound of barking dog, or even worse, barking that seems to have no reason or end? As owners, our knee-jerk reaction is to call our dog over to us to calm him down.  However, this is where we make our first mistake.  When we respond by giving him attention, we reward his behavior of barking.

If you want to curb your dog’s barking behavior, don’t react. Instead, try to identify the trigger and downplay its impact. Outside sounds such as trains or other dogs barking can often be the culprit. You can counteract this with white noise machines, the TV, or static on the radio. Or you can keep the dog in a part of your home where he won’t hear those sounds, such as a back bedroom. This may be a good plan if neighbors complain about barking while you’re gone.

Another strategy is to give your dog something to do that he can’t do at the same time as barking. You can fill food puzzles with treats that a dog may work for hours to retrieve. With these toys, your dog is not only entertained, but he also is unable to bark.

 

How to Stop Your Dog from Jumping

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Jumping on you and your guests entering your home is bad behavior. While your first response might be to pet your dog and push her off you, paying her any attention at all says “good dog.” Physical interaction, even pushing her off, is enough to encourage this behavior. Instead, try to stand straight as a rod, look forward, and say ‘no’ or turn your back to them when they jump. This shows that that you do not respond to her jumping by giving her attention. Remember, even eye contact is a reward.

If your dog will sit on command, ignore the jumping and say only “no” and “sit.” When the dog sits, you can pet her. She will learn that the way to get attention is by sitting and eventually she will know to sit by herself. This change should not take very long if you’re consistent. Even when visitors come, someone has to be there to tell the dog to sit.

 

Once you have used these tips, we invite you to bring your newly well-mannered pup to a TCAP clinic during our walk-in vaccine hours to show off his good behavior.