The Top 4 Bad Dog Behaviors (and How To Fix Them)

How to Fix Bad Dog Behaviors

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If you are a dog owner, chances are good that you have to had to scold your pet at some point. As much as we love them, they can be trouble sometimes. That’s just a part of being a dog owner. 

However, a dog owner should always remember one important thing: punishing your dog is never the most effective strategy. Unless your dog understands the English language, scolding and punishing them will not produce consistent results. Training your dog so that they learn which behaviors are acceptable is the best way to have the well-behaved dog of your dreams. 

Dogs are smarter than given credit for, and typically learn how to hide their bad behaviors when they aren’t trained to learn different methods of dealing with their drives. For example, if you always yell at your dog for chewing shoes, your dog may stop chewing shoes in front of you. However, when you’re in a different room, your dog will continue chewing up your shoes.

The only way to get your dog to stop inappropriate chewing completely, is to instead teach your dog what his possessions are and to only chew those items. To give you a hand when it comes to curbing your dog’s bad behavior, let’s discuss some common poor behaviors, as well as methods for changing them.

1. Inappropriate Chewing

Dogs simply can’t help themselves, they want to chew things. And chewing things can be really good for them too. It aids them in the process of keeping their teeth clean and helps them to relieve stress, tension, and boredom that may be building up. In fact, some people use chewing as a distraction to keep their dog’s occupied so that they don’t end up participating in other bad habits such as barking or to help calm separation anxiety.

The main dangers of chewing, however, are when they are chewing and digesting items and materials that are harmful to them. Your wallet may also not appreciate their chewing habits, especially if they have expensive taste and ruin things like electronics and furniture.

Instead of shouting at your dog when you catch them gnawing on your favorite slippers, provide an item that they are allowed chew on, as to redirect the behavior. Once the dog begins to chew the preferred toy, be sure to lavish them with praise and maybe even a couple treats. Do this consistently and quickly every time that you see your dog head for an item that they aren’t supposed to be chewing on. Eventually they will learn to go and get their toy when they want to chew something instead of your slippers.

2. Digging Holes Outside

When it comes to digging, this is one of the most rewarding activities that a dog can participate in. Some dogs are huge diggers and want to dig holes in every inch of your yard and some dogs just want to dig a couple cool holes to lay in. Either way, most dogs will probably want to dig a hole at some point.

To stop this bad behavior there are a couple things you can try.

  1. Provide your dog with a sandbox or a particular section of the yard where they are allowed to dig. Make sure to praise them when they dig in this area. If they start to dig in another area, tell them a firm no and move them to the area where they are allowed to dig. You can also encourage digging in this area by filling it with their toys and treats.
  2. Fill old holes with their own poop. Dogs don’t really want to hang out and play in their own poop. So by filling holes that they’ve dug with their own poop, you’re dog won’t want to dig in that hole anymore. This can be a good strategy to use with the above method for getting your dog to dig in the appropriate part of the yard.
  3. If you don’t have space in your yard for a digging area, then you’ll have to be on top of it and stop your dog from digging every single time they stop. Tell them no, and then try to redirect the to a more appropriate toy or activity. You’ll have to be very consistent here, because if you let up a little bit they’ll start digging again or try to hide their digging.

3. Begging For Table Scraps

Yes, your dog will look adorable when they want you to feed them off the table and they may even be able to make themselves look downright pitiful. However, you can change this commonplace behavior by remaining consistent in how you handle it.

My dog trainer once explained to me that dogs will take every inch you give them. You can have a dog that for ten years knows not to beg at the table and to stay in the living room while eating. But if, after ten years, you decide to give the dog a nice big bite of steak from the table, then the very next day the dog will be waiting at the table begging for more steak.

So, if you don’t want your dog begging for table scraps, you have to always be consistent and get every member in the household on the same team. If one person is sneaking scraps, your dog will keep begging.

No one in your household should be feeding the dog from the table, otherwise, the pup will come to expect a meal of its own when you sit down to munch. Give your dog a dinnertime activity to do so that they remain busy throughout the meal. Some people also train their dogs to stay on their beds while the family is eating dinner.

4. Urine Marking Inside The Home

All of the bad behaviors that your dog will put you through, this is easily the most disgusting and the one you are likely to have the least amount of tolerance towards. While this behavior is certainly acceptable while the dog is outdoors, it has no place in civilized home.

First, rule out any medical issues that could be causing your dog to urinate in the home. If it’s an older dog that has been potty trained for years and then starts, it could be a sign that there is something wrong with your dog’s health. Your dog could also be urinating due to fear or anxiety. Is it happening more when there are strangers at home? Or when a certain person is around? These could be signs that your dog is afraid.

Your dog could also be marking to display dominance. Did you bring a new pet or baby home recently? Your dog may be trying to establish its place. Regardless, here’s what you should do to correct this behavior.

If you catch your dog marking inside of the house, stopping them with a simple “no” and taking them outside will suffice. From there, simply remove the urine with a strong cleaner that leaves no trace of the old scent. The cleaner should specify that it breaks down urine enzymes. Dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than us, so even when it’s clean and sanitary by our standards, your dog will still be able to smell it without the correct cleaners.

It’s important to note that you need to catch your dog in the act in order to tell it no. If you miss them doing it, then your scolding will not be effective. Grabbing your dog, dragging it to the spot, and rubbing its face in the urine is bad advice that can be found all over the internet but it will not work. It will just confuse your dog and make your dog fearful of you. A fearful dog is not what you want.

What are your tricks for handling these bad behaviors in dogs? Share with us in the comments below.