When you brought that puppy or dog home, you had a picture in your head about what life with that dog would be, didn’t you

When you brought that puppy or dog home, you had a picture in your head about what life with that dog would be, didn’t you? You saw yourself going on walks maybe, playing and snuggling, having that friend you’ve always wanted, swimming with you at the beach, playing frisbee, riding in the car with his head stuck out of the window, the devoted companion. Unconditional love and unspoken communication with one who really understood you, never judging, always adoring the real you. You’ve been around other people’s dogs who behaved so sweetly, were adorable and engaging and you wanted that for yourself. Who wouldn’t?

And instead you got Cujo. Chewed shoes, pee on the carpet. Take him for a walk and he about rips your arm off dragging you down the sidewalk. Losing his mind whenever the doorbell rings and humping your guests. Instead of that loving companion, you got an adversary seemingly intent on ruining your home and your life.

It’s important to understand why your dog is behaving the way he is so you can correct it. Here are the top 3 reasons why dogs misbehave:

1. Your dog doesn’t understand what you expect of him. That’s not his fault, it’s yours. You need to be consistent, patient and clear in your commands, praising and reinforcing good behavior. Spend the time to teach him – it won’t happen by itself.

Don’t just react when he’s misbehaving, yelling at him or punishing him – that usually backfires (see #3). Instead, when he’s being a “good boy”, tell him that and praise him for it often. The more you reinforce his good behavior, the more of it you will see.

2. Your dog is bored and lacking stimulation or exercise. If your dog is digging or chewing or is otherwise destructive, this is usually the reason. Dogs are intelligent and need mental stimulation just like we do.

Set aside some time every day to play with him and engage him, even if it’s just playing with him or petting him while you’re watching TV. Take him on walks so he can explore and socialize. When you aren’t there, give him toys that stimulate him like the toys that hold treats and require some effort to get them out.

3. You have taught your dog to misbehave. For example, does your dog bark excessively? It’s possible you have been encouraging and even rewarding that behavior. Dogs bark to alert the pack expecting a response and action. Do you yell at your dog to “shut up” when he barks? That yell to him is a bark and is exactly the response he wants and expects. It only excites him further and accomplishes his goal.

Think about the signals you are giving your dog. Are they clear and consistent? Are they mixed? When your dog is hyper and jumping on you, do you praise him for it one time by smiling and petting him then push him down and say “no” the next? Or, do you not mind when he jumps on you but expect him to not jump on a visitor?

Understanding these 3 reasons dogs misbehave is the first step in turning your problem dog into the well-behaved friend you dreamed of.

 For more information on training, nutrition and health of your pets, please visit her pet resource website at 4 Fur People and her blog Pet Passion Paradise Blog.

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