How to Stop Dogs From Acting Out

Doggie misbehaving? He might just be showing his discontent.

Doggie misbehaving? He might just be showing his discontent.

Acting out is always a response to something else going on -- whether that means the arrival of a new baby, a change in schedule or a lack of attention. Don't let the behavior drive you crazy, though. You can change it once you figure out what's causing it.

Track back your steps to when the bad behavior started. What changed? Maybe you've been more stressed and are spending less time playing with the doggies as a result. Or maybe there's a new baby at home who's drawing the attention away from your furry children. It could also be the acting out is the reaction to moving house or to your new work schedule, which keeps you away from home for longer hours.

Return to the original routine as much as possible. While you can't go back to living in your previous house, you can make your new one feel more like home. Put the food and water bowl in the same room they used to be, and let Rover sleep in the same place he did in the other house. Are you working more hours and not spending as many with Rover? Consider getting a dog walker to take him out in the afternoon, or spend more time with him when you do come back from work.

Maintain your limits. A dog acting out is testing your patience, so you need to remind him what those limits are. No screaming or punishing him, though, as that can increase his stress and actually worsen the problem. Just let him know you're unhappy -- but only if you catch him in the act. A fast "no" will send the message that his behavior is not acceptable.

Reward good behavior. When Doggie does something that makes you happy -- such as ignoring the remote control instead of chewing it again -- make a big deal out of it. Give him a treat, or a kiss or both. If you say "no" and he actually listens, tell him what a good boy he is. By reinforcing good behavior, you make it more worth it for him to repeat it, instead of trying the bad behavior again.


  • If things don't seem to improve, you might need the help of a trainer. Sometimes an outsider can better assess the situation and help you understand what's causing the stress and what you can do about it.

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About the Author

Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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