Dogs misbehave. It's a way of life. I've got good dogs, but they do things they shouldn't – like go in the house, or refuse to listen when they're called. The Lab, especially, is a princess and likes to have her own way. They bark when they shouldn't and do all sorts of things that aren't bad, necessarily, but they need to learn better practices. Here are 7 tips for getting your dog to behave better.
Practice makes perfect. Teaching a dog the right behavior is a lesson in patience for the pooches and their owners both. You can't get fed up and you can't quit. You just have to persevere and keep practicing – it will pay off in the end. Just remember that Rome wasn't built in a day and dogs won't learn in a day either.
2. Act like the Alpha
Your dog needs to know who's in charge. Case in point: both my dogs and my parents dogs will listen to my dad when they won't listen to anyone else. He exudes that Alpha male factor that makes them recognize someone else is in charge – not them. This can be difficult for humans to learn. It is also funny; I know this because everyone laughs at me when I try to mimic my dad's low-toned growl to make the hot dog stop barking.
Sometimes, going to a behaviorist who specializes in dog training might help. This is especially helpful for dogs who really misbehave, such as those who can't get along with children or other animals. If you've adopted a dog from a shelter, this might be an option as well; you don't always know what ordeals those poor dears have been through before finding a happy home with you.
4. Obedience Classes
You don't always have to go to such extremes, though. Sometimes, simple obedience classes will do the trick. These can get expensive, which can be an issue. The good news is that various trainers and even pet stores often offer deals on obedience classes. Some of them are seriously discounted, and others of them are offered for free.
5. Show Love
Showing love to your dog is important. You shouldn't coddle him or her, but the dog needs to know that you still love him even when he makes a mistake. As you will see in a minute, positive reinforcement usually works best, because it is something the dog can understand.
When your dog does his business where he's supposed to or when he lets you know he has to go outside, a treat can be your best friend, and can make your dog yours. He learns that the behavior will give him food. This might seem like bribery, but sometimes it's the only thing that works to teach your dog he's doing the right thing.
Sometimes you need the right tools of the trade. For dogs who bark or try to run away, whistles are a more humane choice. Like, I know some trainers and owners prefer leashes and choke chains and things like that, but I can't do that. No judgment, it's just not my bag. Whistles or that handy new As-See-on-TV no-bark remote control thing may be a better option.
One of the most important things to realize is just that dogs are dogs, and sometimes they have to behave like dogs. They run, they jump, and they bark. The thing they have to learn, however, is that there is a time and a place for all of that. How do you get your dog to behave?
Top Photo Credit: Fenchurch!