Behavior problems can make it difficult to enjoy time with your pet. Fortunately, you can fix behavior problems at minimal cost with some extra time, patience and effort. The exception to this is a dog with aggression issues, which should be handled by a professional.
Exercise your dog. Even if your pup has access to a fenced yard, he probably does not get enough exercise. Structured play, such as fetch, burns off a lot of energy fast. Excess energy is a major contributor to bad habits like digging and chewing.
Walk your dog on a leash. Leash walking, once or twice a day, provides exercise, improves bonding and socializes your dog.
Teach your dog to listen. Basic obedience, such as performing the sit and down on command, teaches your dog to listen to you. For example, when teaching your dog a command, have a baggie of inexpensive treats in your pocket. Give him the command, and immediately slip him a treat when he obeys. Keep the training session fast paced, slipping him treats and giving commands, and you will soon notice he keeps his eye on you at all times, paying attention and waiting for cues on what you expect.
Use effective discipline tools. A rattle works for nearly any behavior problems your dog has. Drop a few coins in an empty soda can and seal the opening with duct tape. When your dog barks, jumps on visitors, or otherwise behaves poorly, toss the can so that it lands near the dog and say "no" firmly. A spray bottle of water also works well, but you have to be much closer to your dog to use this effectively.
Correct your dog every time he misbehaves. This means if he is not allowed to jump on you when you're wearing your work clothes, he isn't allowed to jump on you when you are wearing pajamas. Consistency is the most important training tool you have.
Offer rewards when your dog does what you want. If he greats you by trotting up and doesn't jump, learn down and give him a pat. If he hears a noise outside and goes to the door but doesn't bark, toss him a treat. He will learn quickly what behavior you reward and what you discourage.
- The Good Behavior Book For Dogs; Colleen Paige
- Oprah.com: Old Dog, New Tricks: How to Transform Your Difficult Dog into a Model Pet
- Most dogs are driven by food rewards, but store-bought treats are pricey. Inexpensive but safe treats for your puppy include finely chopped hot dog wieners (you can microwave these for a few minutes to dry them out, so they aren't slimey), air-popped popcorn with no butter or salt added, and chopped apples and bananas.