Whether you’ve just bought a puppy or you’ve opted for an older rescue dog, dealing with behaviour problems is part and parcel of becoming a dog owner.
Perhaps you’ve already tried and failed to tackle behavioural issues or perhaps you’re seeking the best approach before you start. Either way, help is at hand.
Tug-E-Nuff Dog Gear’s resident dog trainer Matt is well used to helping owners combat unwelcome behaviour. Here are his tips on dealing with three of the most common behaviour problems: barking, chewing and aggression.
All dogs bark from time to time – it would be unreasonable to expect them not to – but some dogs bark excessively. It’s a common problem for owners (and their neighbours) everywhere. So what can you do about it?
Matt says: ‘Barking can quickly become and ingrained behaviour, so it’s worth nipping it in the bud as soon as you can.
‘Although it’s annoying, shouting at your dog won’t help you get any positive results. In fact, they will probably think you are joining in and it can become a fun game for them. Instead, work on calmly teaching him or her to understand the command ‘quiet’ by using positive reinforcement that offers a dog training toy or an edible treat as a reward.
‘Dogs can bark excessively when they feel lonely – but a tired dog is usually a quiet dog. If you know you have to leave your dog for a short while, be sure to take him for a long walk and play lots of games before you leave to wear him out.
‘It’s worth noting that excessive barking that is out of character in a dog can indicate that they are unwell or experiencing pain, so it’s worth getting checked over by a vet if you think this could be the case.’
We’ve all heard the excuse ‘my dog ate my homework’ but the truth is some dogs really will chew through the paper (and shoes, and sofas, and almost anything they can sink their teeth into).
This destructive behaviour must be ironed out quickly and effectively. But how?
Matt says: ‘Prevention is the first line of defence against dogs who like to chew. So make sure you puppy-proof your house. Hide the things (like shoes) that your dog likes to tear apart. Out of sight, out of mind.
‘The urge to chew is very common and normal for many dogs – but sometimes it needs channelling in the right direction. At Tug-E-Nuff Dog Gear, we have a few toys designed for dogs that love to play with and chew on - but remember only leave your dog with toys designed to be chewed.
‘A good interactive dog training toy will also keep your dog occupied and stop him even thinking about chewing on the things he’s not supposed to.’
When a dog shows signs of aggression, it can be really worrying. But there is a lot that can be done to curb aggressive behaviour to ensure it doesn’t escalate to the stage where a dog becomes dangerous.
So where do you start?
Matt says: ‘Aggressive behaviour can include anything from growling and showing teeth to charging and biting. It can be directed either at humans or at other dogs.
‘Getting aggression under control is essential for the safety of others and for your peace of mind. One of the first things to do is identify the reason for your dog’s aggression. Are they being territorial? Are they being protective (perhaps of you or of a favourite toy)? Or are they feeling scared?
‘Aggressive behaviour is so serious that we recommend that once the trigger has been identified that you seek one-to-one help from a dog training expert.
‘Choose a trainer you like and trust who uses positive reinforcement (and not punishment-based methods).’