Every dog has a unique character, not including their gene-specific and breed-specific characteristics, which they actually may or may not show. However, some habits and unacceptable behavior in dogs make a perfect ingredient for a nightmarish experience for a new pet owner. In fact, puppies and older dogs, both can show such habits, which can be curtailed with your consistent efforts and positive mindset. Lately, the concept of positive dog behavioral training has gained a lot of appreciation, more because it eliminates harsh training and gives as good results.
What is Positive Dog Behavior Training?
Positive dog training is a training method in which positive reactions, such as loving gestures, treats, and other rewards are included while negative reactions have no place. Dogs are smart enough to understand what is working best for them and are likely to repeat their behavior that has earned them appreciation or rewards in the past. A pet owner would only need a handful of their pet’s favourite treats and a strong will to teach the dog a desired behavior. By offering a treat every time the dog performs a desired act, he will gradually accept that act as something normal.
On the other hand, negative enforcement for dogs may not be really helpful. Scolding, yelling, hitting, or any other gesture for a bad behavior is a potentially confusing act for dogs. For example if you scold a dog for chewing up a shoe, it is more probable that he will not do it in front of you again, but if you are not around, it would be acceptable to do so. You can train them commands to stop chewing, something that can bring them a reward, rather continuing chewing that brings no good.
With persistent efforts and some patience, positive dog behavioral training can not only bring highly desirable changes in your dog’s behavior, but also establish a deeper bond between you two.
Top 10 Dog Behavioral Training Solutions
Positive training for your dogs in these most common situations have been proven immensely helpful. What more, you can actually foster a confident, loving, and caring dog with these tricks.
Puppies have an instinctive behavior of biting and nipping as a part of the exploration of their surroundings. As they start playing with their brothers and sisters in their litter, they gradually learn nipping softly. However, some older dogs too bite because of several reasons. These reasons may be an injury, sickness, pain, or just a defensive act out of fear.
To train such dogs with a biting tendency may seem difficult at times. With patience and a focused mind, you can gain their trust and gradually help them out of this anxiousness. You may begin with offering them a treat now and then. Slowly slip in commands such as ‘stop,’ or ‘back-off’ with the treats. If the biting doesn’t stop, show pain through your gestures and stop your involvement with the dogs for some time. Offer sweet words and a treat whenever they stop biting on your command. Repeat these steps until this behavior is established. If you can control your dog well, he will be less likely to start biting even during socializing in a park or strangers too close to your home.
Anxiety on Separation
Dogs love to follow their owners around. Of course they cannot understand that you will have to go to work or for grocery shopping, that it is essential. On being left alone for longer duration, dogs start showing anxiety symptoms, which include chewing things around, eliminating body wastes inside the home, excessive barking, etc. Some dogs start showing separation anxiety as soon as they see owners getting ready to go.
You need to teach your dogs that it is okay to be alone in the home for some time. You can start training them by leaving them alone inside for ten minutes and then coming back in without any excitement. Gradually, increase this alone time. Be ready to see some evident symptoms that your dog had been anxious behind you. Ignore the bad behavior but if they behaved in a desired way while you were away, offer a treat. You can also keep the television on while you are out, which will not let a dog feel ‘alone’ at home.
Jumping on Guests
Dogs jump instinctively on people, just like puppies do to meet their mothers. While some guests like such warmth in the welcome, some may get scared. It is essential to teach your dog greeting people in a more friendly and acceptable way, such as a handshake.
If your dog jumps on you in excitement, back off immediately and continue with whatever you were doing. Remember, no negative reactions like yelling, scolding, etc. Jumping is their way to attract attention, and if you gradually teach them that it won’t work, they would stop doing it. Whenever the dog calms down after their attempt to jump on you, reward them with treats or belly rubs, etc.
Excreting in Home
Puppies less than 12 weeks old are obviously not potty trained and tend to eliminate their waste inside the home. Their gradual training to do this act outside home will help in this behavior. However, if your older dog is doing this frustrating thing, you should ask a vet and get any medical problem ruled out.
If it is only a behavioral problem, you can start their training to poop and urinate outside home. Spread a newspaper on their favorite pooping spot in the home. Then keep this paper near an exit door in the home. Give a treat when they do it on this new spot. Gradually, take this paper outside home and continue the treats whenever they poop outside. After some time when you are confident of your dog behavioral training, you can completely get rid of the paper.
Dogs love affection and attention. Some dog love it so much that they start whining for their owner’s attention. In some extreme cases, this can become too much to handle.
As a basic petting rule, give them you undivided attention whenever you are rubbing their bellies or patting them. Indulge in these loving gestures when your dog is not whining for it. Ignore the whining, keep arms folded, or simply leave. Repeat these steps while offering positive reinforcement when petting them.
Begging for Food from your Plate
Who can ignore those puppy eyes looking right into your eyes and intermittently at the plate in front of you! Of several things that dogs love, food takes the first place. If you have given table scraps to your dog once, it is likely that he will ask for them every time you pull that chair out.
Rules are rules. Do not give dogs table scraps no matter what. It is also important because dogs’ systems are not built for sharing human foods. If you find your dog standing next to you every time you are eating food, ignore them. If ignoring does not work, take them to another spot with instructions to keep sitting until you finish your food. Reward with a treat if they keep sitting for that duration. Continue this training till they are happy to wait for you to finish you meal.
Teething, boredom, curiosity, or anxiety, there are several reasons why dogs’ chewing habit is a cause of destruction in the home. This habit must be controlled early so that there is no place for anger or aggression in pet parenting.
Offer your dogs special chewy toys. Ensure that no personal and dangerous items are accessible to them. If you find your dog in the act of chewing something, distract him with a sharp clap or a whistle. Replace that item with a chewy toy or simply lure them with such toys to distract. It is important that your dog gets enough exercise to relieve its energy. It helps in eliminating these chewing instances.
Dogs show aggression by growling, showing their teeth, snarling, and even biting. Not the age or breed of dogs, but their history better determines their aggressive behavior. A dog with a violent history where he might have been abused is more likely to show an aggressive side.
You must observe and understand certain situations that most likely trigger an aggressive behavior in your dog. This behavior may also reveal certain health symptoms of the dog. Thus, an aggressive dog will need medical intervention as well as proper training from a professional. You may also begin positive dog behavioral training in case your dog’s aggression can be controlled. For example, if your dog gets aggressive looking at strangers, you can start the training by standing at a little distance from a stranger. Offer a treat if the dog doesn’t get aggressive. Increase this distance gradually. Slowly, your dog will start associating strangers with treats and show less aggression around them.
Dogs do bark but excessive barking is definitely not okay. A dog may be barking while playing, to alert you, to respond to any other dog, or to seek your attention. You must understand each time why your dog is barking and when he is barking needlessly.
You can train them to understand your commands of ‘shush’ or ‘quiet’ through positive enforcement. Show them a treat until the barking stops and then offer it to them. Gradually increase the silence periods before you give them the treat. Alternatively, you can also teach barking to those dogs who do not prefer to vocalize even when the situation demands.
Instinct to Chase
Dogs’ predatory instincts sometimes take over, compelling them to chase moving objects. It is not uncommon to see dogs running after a cyclist or a car. These are definitely dangerous to themselves as well as to other people.
While training dogs to forget their instincts is not a hundred per cent possible, you can surely control this behaviour in them. You can make sure that your dogs are on a leash that you are holding all the time when in a public place. Also, you can train them to come back to you when you blow a whistle or make a peculiar sound. Slowly, dogs may just prefer coming back to you rather than running behind something.