Dogs live what they learn. If a dog is lunging and barking at people or animals – or worse, nipping and trying to bite – and the owner pets them and talks to them, the dog understands that he’s making the right decisions. The result is that he or she will continue to practice those behaviors, because they’ve learned they’ll be rewarded for it. Here are three common actions your dog perceives as rewards for bad behavior:
Instead of rewarding your dog’s unwanted behaviors, correct them. You wouldn’t reward your child for hitting, biting, yelling, or any other negative behavior towards you or anyone else; you would sternly correct them and give them consequences that teach them their behavior is not acceptable. Do the same thing with your dog. If you don’t know how to do that or you’re not sure how to start, hire a trainer to help you learn – and make sure you’re 100% committed to the process, because it’s not going to be easy. Your dog is going to push back and test your resolve until you prove to him that he can trust you to have everything under control. She’s going to push you repeatedly to see if you’re serious, until you prove to her that the consequences for those unacceptable behaviors are the same 100% of the time.
Be your dog’s leader. Teach them what is and is not acceptable. Give them consequences for unwanted behaviors; reward them for making good decisions. Be calm but assertive with corrections, tell them “no” when you need to and “yes” when they make the right choice. Create what you want – and if you don’t know how to do that, hire a trainer to help you.
Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.