Most shelter dogs arrive with one or two behavior issues, and those that don’t will frequently develop some out of utter ingenuity

Most shelter dogs arrive with one or two behavior issues, and those that don’t will frequently develop some out of utter ingenuity. And the stress of changing to a whole new house and a whole new family is extremely likely to bring about new unwelcome habits or exacerbate old ones.

Remain calm, and don’t take it personally; your dog is not doing anything bizarre, unchangeable, or spiteful. She’s not misbehaving out of spite, so don’t correct her in retaliation; your intention is to stop her unfavorable behavior calmly and authoritatively, not to get revenge. Consider, she probably has never had to yield to any guidelines previously, but that doesn’t suggest she won’t want to learn yours.

We’ve made a list of the more prevalent doggie problems here, but a couple central principles apply to each of them:

1. Use prevention. If you know your dog likes to chew your socks or dig in your plants, don’t leave your belongings where she can reach them just yet. If she is only misbehaved when she’s by herself, don’t leave her alone until she is completely trained. Simply put, prevent as many problems for her to do inappropriate behaviors during these first couple of weeks. But don’t go overboard and confine her to her crate all day either; that’s not fair to her, and in addition, she won’t ever understand if she is never allowed to make mistakes.

2. No matter what, stay consistent. Set guidelines, and adhere to them. Correct your dog anytime she misbehaves, not just when you want to (and not only when you happen to catch her – which means you need to look after her every move relentlessly in the beginning). And gather the family together to ensure that everybody in the household is correcting the same situations in the same manner; don’t let anybody try to be the “nice one” by not punishing your dog’s unwanted behaviors. That won’t earn anybody points; it will just create a very bewildered and unhappy pet.

3. Catch her in the act, or don’t catch her at all. Similar to housebreaking, you must correct a mistake right as it happens, rather than forty-five minutes or nine hours later. You may scold your dog if you find her chewing on your tennis shoes, but not if you find your tennis shoes aleady torn up on the floor and can’t see your dog anywhere around. If you wait too long to make the correction, she’ll have many fantastic memories of eating your belongings and no idea that your anger has anything to do with it. She’ll simply think you are a crazy person who gets angry for no reason, and learn to fear you. Guess what that means? That’s right. Supervision.

Entrapment isn’t against the law when training your dog. Let’s say you are having difficulties catching your dog in the act of stealing food from your counters. Why not set her up? Put some irresistible tidbit where it can’t be missed, and be ready to correct her with your shake can or spray bottle and your sharp voice when she goes for the goods. Cheating? Maybe – but it’s effective. Don’t forget to tell her when she’s good. You don’t want to be a naysayer all the time; if you’ve corrected her for digging in the garden, then tell her she’s terrific when you see her resisting the urge to do so.

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