How to Reverse Bad Dog Habits

It takes patience and consistency to reverse bad habits.
i funny dog sleeping on pillow with legs crossed image by Paul Retherford from

Even the most conscientious pet owner can end up with a dog that has some bad habits. One common problem is that behaviors that are cute as puppies, such as chewing on your hands or laying on the couch, are not so cute in an adult dog.

Step 1

Work on one thing at a time. This keeps you from feeling like you are constantly chastising your pet. Decide on the behavior that bothers you most, or is most destructive, and work on eliminating it first.

Step 2

Be consistent. If it is not OK for your dog to be on the couch, it is never OK for him to be there. It's not fair allowing him up while you're watching television, then expecting him to stay down while you are eating dinner.

Step 3

Keep your dog close. It is impossible to manage your pet's behavior from another room, or worse, from outside the home. When you're home, keep your dog in the same room as you, perhaps even with a leash attached so you can grab him quickly if necessary. When you leave him home alone, confine him to a crate or small room where he cannot cause problems.

Step 4

Use your voice. Unless the bad behavior involves aggression, there is no reason to physically punish your pet. When he disobeys, say "no" in a firm voice and physically prevent him from doing whatever it is that was getting him into trouble.

Step 5

Keep him active. Many bad behaviors, such as chewing and food stealing, may stem from boredom. Frequent walks, playing games of fetch, and investing in puzzle-type toys that require your dog to perform certain actions to release treats all stimulate his mind and body and should reduce bad behavior.

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