When Dogs Go Bad: How to correct Negative Behaviour

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Lets get one thing straight: Dogs are not born bad.

Just as humans are not born bad, there is no such thing as a bad dog. Bad behaviour is not something that is natural to dogs, in fact most breeds will actually want to make their human friends happy.

Another revelation that will help us on our way to good boy is: punishment does not work. That’s right. Punishing your naughty dog does not work. Dogs (just like children) learn through positive reinforcement. It doesn’t mean that a quick shock for very bad behaviour wont work in the short term, but in the long run positive reinforcement is a much better plan.

Bad Boy! VS Good Boy!

Before we get into how to correct common naughty behaviour, its worth having a chat to your vet. If your dog suddenly begins to display out of character behaviour that you consider naughty, it could be due to a medical condition. Chewing could actually be to relieve the pain of toothache, just as door scratching could actually be separation anxiety. Have a chat to your vet if you’re concerned.

Chewing

Chewing is a way for dogs to relieve boredom and keep their teeth clean. You’ll be pleased to know that, for the most part, dogs don’t have a sense of revenge and are not targeting your favourite heels out of punishment!

If your dog is older than a puppy, they should be out of the chewing phase, but they can still slip into bad behaviour. A firm “no!” and removing the object will let your dog know that the object he had chosen was wrong. Replace the inappropriate object with something that he is allowed to chew.

As a side note here, pick some different textured toys for your pup to chew on. You may find that he really doesn’t like hard plastic toys but loves chewing on soft fluffy toys! Only one way to find out!!

Begging

This is not a cute behaviour. Some pet guardians believe that teaching your pet to beg is cute, however its not something that should be encouraged. No matter how starved your pup looks! Remember that every tid bit or treat will have to come out of their daily food allowance or you will be at risk of allowing your pup to become obese.

Fixing this behaviour can be as simple as not allowing anyone to give in! Dogs are incredibly good at remembering that “one time” that the rules were allowed to slip. They will continue to push until that “one time” becomes every time! Make sure no one feeds him from the table, no treats or rewards for begging. It may even be a good idea to go further and reward your dog for staying in his bed while you’re eating. Positive reinforcement is the key here!

Peeing in the house

If you’re not puppy training, then this is an issue where your pet is marking his territory. The best way to stop this is to catch them in the act and use a firm voice to tell them “no”. Remove your pet to the outdoors and praise them then they do their business outside.

If your dog is marking his territory by peeing indoors (and this is more of an issue with male dogs), make sure you clean the area thoroughly. Removing scent markings will really hep to stop this bad behaviour.

If the problem is down to lack of house training then persistence is the key. Get into the habit of physically taking your dog out to go for a pee at very regular intervals. When you wake up, let him out. When he’s finished breakfast, let him out. Before you leave the house, let him out. When you return to the house, let him out. After he’s had his dinner, let him out and before you go to bed, let him out!

This may seem over they top, but it will allow your dog to develop a routine. He will know that, at some pint soon, he will be let out to do his business. This will mean he will develop the natural ability to hold it. If your pup has been left alone for a lot longer than usual and doesn’t manage to hold it, don’t punish him. He will probably feel bad enough as it is.

WARNING

If your dog has suddenly started peeing indoors (or pooping) out of the blue, this is certainly a case for the vet. Good dogs do not suddenly start peeing or pooping indoors for no good reason. As horrid as it sounds, it’s a good idea to quickly inspect what’s been left and see if it looks (and smells) healthy. Any blood in the poop or the urine can be a marker of a serious health concern (such as canine cancer). Get this checked as soon as possible.

Cancer (and other similar illnesses) in dogs and small animals is not the death sentence it once was. Getting treatment as soon as possible is still the key though, and may mean being referred to a specialist.

Growling, Snapping and Dominant Behaviour

 This is more serious. Dominant behaviour usually begins when your dog is around 18 months to 2 years old and can quickly escalate.

A firm control over your dog is a must. If your dog is snapping and showing his teeth at your regularly, its time to get some professional help.

Socialising puppies when they are young will really help to curb this behaviour, but if it continues you must seek professional help from a dog behaviourist. Ask your vet for recommendations in your area. Remember that if your dog bites a human, there may not be much you can do to save him being put to sleep, so get advice early on.

Usually good dogs will not show outward signs of aggression when they are in pain. Dogs are incredible good at internalising pain. Even when you inspect a painful area, they may only whine or lick their lips to show they are in pain. If your dog is growling and snapping and it’s very out of character, he could be in pain and a trip to the vet immediately is absolutely necessary.

We hope you have learnt something from this post, if you have any tips for us, we would love to hear them!