Dogs are a wonderful addition to the family, but like any family member, a dog can have some pretty annoying habits. If you don’t step in and get those habits under control, you can end up with a dog whose behavior is out of control.
What’s cute when your dog is a small puppy can become a nuisance – and even risky – when he’s an adult. For a puppy to jump up on visitors might seem cute, but when you add 100 or more pounds to that little puppy, he’ll have the strength and body weight to injure your family members or guests – and you don’t want that.
The five most common annoying dog habits are barking, jumping up on people, tearing up things, rough play and begging. But there are ways that you can successful curb each of these habits.
Dogs make great early warning systems. If anyone comes around your house, a dog can alert you that someone is there before that person even reaches your door. So for safety and security, nothing can beat having a furry member of the family around.
There are times when you want your dog to bark. If there’s something going on outside your home, your dog alerts you by barking. This is his way of taking care of you and protecting you. Your dog can see and hear what you often don’t.
The wrong response on your behalf is if you ignore the barking or tell the dog to be quiet. He’s trying to tell you that he senses something isn’t right. So what you need to do when your dog is alerting toward a door or window is to find out why he’s barking.
If there is something going on and he barked for that reason, you don’t want him to be quiet. Instead, you want to reassure him that he did the right thing. Tell him, “Good dog” and then have him go away from the alert point and sit or lie down.
The kind of barking that can become an annoying habit is when a dog barks for what seems to you to be no reason. Dogs always have a reason, but not all barking is necessary. For the same reason that humans eat when they’re not hungry, dogs will bark when nothing is going on.
They’ll bark because they’re excited, bored or in response to other dogs barking. It’s their pack mentality that causes that – even though they may not be in a pack at this time.
If your dog barks because he’s excited, calm him down – and if he barks because he’s bored, it’s a sign that he needs more physical action. You want to make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise as well as social time with other dogs.
Never reward barking with activities that your dog likes – such as by taking your dog for a walk or giving him a treat. He’ll learn that if he’s not quiet, he gets a walk or a treat and you don’t want him to train you!
When you return home after being gone, your dog will often bark in short bursts because he’s glad you’re home. That’s simply his way of telling you that. He needs to be patted and reassured and he should stop barking once he’s finished greeting you.
When your dog engages in incessant barking, you want to gently close your dog’s mouth and say a firm, “Quiet” or another command associated with him not barking. You want to use one word commands because dogs understand one word commands better than they do an entire string of words.
If, when you move your hand away from your dog’s muzzle, he begins to bark again, you’ll want to repeat your action of closing his muzzle and giving him the ‘Quiet’ command.
You can get your dog used to the quiet command by rewarding him when he does obey the command. This can be a verbal ‘Good boy’ or a treat. Some pet owners use anti-barking collars or products that will emit a loud, startling sound when the dog barks.
Most dogs can be easily trained to be quiet with just a command. If your dog just doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of barking only when necessary, you may need to enroll him in an obedience class.
Jumping Up on People
When your dog jumps up on people, it can be a problem. Most people don’t enjoy a dog jumping up on them and a large dog can knock a child down. You want to start training your dog that this kind of behavior is not rewarded.
When your dog attempts to jump up on you, refuse to look at him. The minute you make eye contact, he realizes that he’s got your attention and so he knows that if wants your attention, all he has to do is jump on you.
Besides not looking at him, you don’t want to give him any verbal communication. Don’t laugh and don’t raise your voice. Don’t give him any verbal commands at all. You want to ignore him until he settles down.
Don’t engage the dog by touching him, either. Don’t push him off of you – and if he jumps up on others, don’t rush over to pull him off. He knows then that this kind of behavior will get you to come and interact with him.
Don’t rub or pet him when he jumps up. Keep both verbal and physical contact non-existent. Some people will raise their knee when a dog jumps, believing that this teaches a dog not to jump up – but it doesn’t.
All this does is show the dog that if he wants your attention, all he has to do is jump on you. He actually sees the knee up as interaction and encouragement because you’re giving him attention.
This becomes a problem because if you give the dog attention, he quickly learns to repeat his actions. You have to stand completely still and give him attention only when he’s sitting or standing before you.
The minute that your dog is standing or sitting before you, quickly give him a treat. He’ll learn to associate sitting and standing still with getting the treat. Be enthusiastic in your praise when the dog obeys.
Tearing Up Things in Your Home
Just like human babies, puppies are going to explore. They’re going to put things in their mouth and dig into things. They’re going to want to snatch things and run. Dogs have been known to destroy furniture, toys, shoes and even chew on the ends of a corner wall.
If this behavior isn’t corrected, it will get worse. Just as babies are taught the right and wrong way to act, all dogs – puppies or not – have to be taught what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
Tearing up things in your home can get expensive, depending on what the dog tears up, and it can be dangerous for him. You can take away your dog’s odds of tearing something up by pet-proofing your home.
Dogs will tear up anything when they’re bored or lonely or dealing with separation anxiety. Put away things that dogs are normally attracted to tearing up – such as shoes and pillows.
Keep any stuffed animals out of sight when you’re not home because dogs often mistake stuffed animals for chew toys. Give your dog items that he is allowed to chew on – such as dog toys and dog teething rings. If your dog is teething, giving him a dog teething ring that’s been chilled will him not chew on things he shouldn’t chew on.
Dogs will repeat behavior when there are no consequences to their actions. If they chew on the end of the sofa and you laugh or simply replace the sofa, it gets reinforced to the dog that his actions were okay.
When a dog does destroy something and you fuss at him after you discover it, your dog doesn’t understand what he’s done. He understands only when you interrupt him in the middle of tearing something up.
Firmly say, “No!” and then gently remove him from the item. You want to be gentle, but you don’t want to engage or pet the dog when he’s in the middle of tearing something up.
He’ll associate that action with your petting him or giving him attention. When there are no consequences, dogs will keep going back – such as chewing on the same piece of furniture.
There are some natural repellants that you can buy at the pet store. You can spray down the part of the furniture where he’s been chewing with this repellant. The spray won’t hurt him, but what it does is give him a nasty taste, like he’s bitten into something very bitter.
He quickly learns that the furniture doesn’t taste good. To head off the issue of chewing on furniture, some pet owners spray the edges of the furniture down ahead of time with repellant.
Make sure that you’re keeping your dog active – because many dogs will tear things up because they have a lot of energy that isn’t being released through enough exercise.
When dogs engage in rough play, without meaning to, they can harm themselves, other pets and even people. That’s why rough play should always be stopped.
Dogs are fast learners and pick up behaviors from other dogs – and people, too. If your dog does play too rough, it’s either because he’s caught up in the playing, he thinks it’s okay because he’s been allowed to play rough, or because the dog is asserting an alpha side.
When the dog begins to play rough, the play needs to end immediately. Remove the dog from the play or take away the object he’s playing with. When a dog gets caught up in playing, he’s too focused on the playing to understand that his actions could quickly cause him to be too aggressive.
If your dog begins to assert his alpha side, the play can escalate into serious biting as he attempts to subdue the other pet or person he’s playing with. Signs that your dog is playing too rough include his body language changing from relaxed to stiff and unyielding.
He’ll often stare in aggression and he’ll growl in a deeper growl than he normally uses. Play growling is a growling that he does that lasts longer than it usually does.
When your dog is playing with other pets, keep an eye out for signs that he’s playing too rough and stop him immediately. Don’t allow your pet to be aggressive with other dogs or people.
Let him calm down from the play before you engage with him. Never allow your dog to ever play like he’s biting you. Most people will put out and arm and let a puppy or small dog bite on their arm.
When the dog gets bigger and older, he’s learned that this is okay and doesn’t realize that his tiny jaws and teeth are now a lot stronger and sharper. Instead of letting the dog bite on you, encourage him to bite dog toys.
When your dog is playing to rough, like a child that’s engaged in inappropriate play, your dog needs a time out. It’s easy for dogs to get riled up when they’re playing – especially if they have some energy to work off.
Make sure your dog has a way of letting off some of that stored up energy before he starts playing. Take him for a walk or let him run around in the yard and chase a ball.
Dogs beg only because at some point, someone rewarded that behavior. Don’t start the habit of allowing your dog to beg while you eat and it won’t become a problem.
You don’t want your dog to learn to beg and you don’t want to give in because not only does it establish the foundation for future begging, but people food isn’t healthy for your dog.
If your dog has an established begging habit, you can stop it by not allowing him in the same room with you while you’re eating. Let him stay in another room or in his crate whenever you’re having a meal or a snack.
Teach him to go when you’re eating. Train him that when you’re eating, he must be lying down in another room or on his dog bed. You can train him that it’s time for him to rest in his crate with the door open and if that doesn’t work, you can confine him to the crate during meals.
Never allow a dog to sit and stare at you or your guests whenever you’re eating. With their big eyes and sad faces, dogs can tempt even the strongest pet owner into giving in just this once.
When your dog does beg or whine or bark to get a bite of what you’re eating or cooking, you have to ignore the dog. The best way to train a dog and stop bad behavior is to be consistent.
You can train him that when it’s time for you to eat, it’s time for him to eat. Your dog will learn to associate mealtime with his comfort and he’ll look forward to his food rather than yours.
Some pet owners choose to block access to the room where meals are held by putting a baby gate up across the doorway. By being a consistent pet owner with training your dog, you can establish boundaries for your pet that will keep him safe and healthy and prevent him from developing annoying habits.