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DOGS AREN'T BORN KNOWING WHAT OR WHAT NOT TO DO, THEY ONLY LEARN LIKE CHILDREN. HAVING ONCE BEEN PUNISHED, DOGS REMEMBER, BUT LIKE CHILDREN, THEY HOPE THEY WON'T BE CAUGHT IN THE ACT. DOGS CAN BE SO CONSCIENCE-STRICKEN THAT I HAVE SEEN AN INNOCENT ONE CREEP AND CRAWL AWAY IN SHAME WHEN ANOTHER DOG HAS COMMITTED THE CRIME, AND THE INNOCENT DOG HAS BEEN PUNISHED IN ERROR.  -BARBARA WOODHOUSE, NO BAD DOGS

 

Behavior problems are the number one reason people give up on their dog and choose to place it or surrender it to a shelter or rescue. Don't make this mistake! There are ways to improve your dogs behavior and communicate more effectively with your canine companion. Many behavior problems are the result of something we as owners have unknowingly condoned, or perhaps found funny in our relationship with our dog. It may have been funny when the young family dog growled at you when you tried to remove him from the couch. It's not so funny later on when he is older and bites a family member that also tried to remove him. Our canine companions are creatures of habit, they learn out of repetition. It is up to us as owners to promote structure and stability in order to have years of successful ownership. Realize that you are not alone and that there is help for your dog. 

The following are just some of the behavior problems that dog owners can experience with their companion pets.

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Aggression - toy, food, people, dogs, other animals

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Chewing

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Destruction

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Separation Anxiety

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Biting

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Mouthing

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Jumping

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Housebreaking

Train Your Dog

Training your dog is an absolute necessity. Just like children, dogs come into the world filled with love and curiosity, but not manners. They need to be taught how to get along in the family. That includes eliminating outside of the house, behaving properly in the house, and being polite to people and other animals. This is a demanding, yet enjoyable job that begins the moment the dog enters your house and your life. Training makes dogs happy. By nature, dogs prefer a society with rules, where everybody knows his place. When you teach dogs the rules of your family, they feel secure knowing exactly what they are and arenít allowed to do. Dogs will test you from time to time, to see if anything has changed. Thatís one reason itís so important to keep the same rules and the same schedules every day.

You Are the Trainer

You set the stage for the successful training of your dog. Your most important tool is ďpositive reinforcementĒógetting the dog to do what you want with praise and reward. The other two critical tools are patience and firmness (never harshness). You must be confident while training, and you must be consistent. Your goal is to get the dog to respond to your request, delivered once, in a cheerful, business-like voice. Itís up to you to set a positive, happy tone for training.

What to Expect from Your Dog

The amount of patience and firmness you will need often depends on the breed of dog. Investigate the breed you want before you get him. Breeders, veterinarians, trainers and owners can tell you what itís like to train different breeds. Some breeds learn quickly; others require more time. Some breeds need a strong hand; others require only gentle correcting. With all breeds, being too hard on a dog will only teach him to fear you and others. He can become overly fearful or overly aggressive. On the other hand, if youíre not confident in your authority, the dog may try to take over. Show your dog what to do, but respect him for who he is. Enroll in an obedience class for advice and support in the training process.

Praise and Correction

Praise when right. Correct when wrong. Itís as simple as that. A correction is the word ďno,Ē delivered in a firm voice. Always follow a correction with praise as soon as the mistake has been cleared up. Make a habit of pointing out your dogís good behavior to himóhe wants to please you, so heíll remember to do it again. When he does something wrong, correct him, show him the right thing to do, then praise him. For example: Puppies must chew, but when they chew on your shoe or hand, correct them; then give them a chew toy and praise. Donít hold a grudge when the dog misbehaves. He will forget his mistake in a few minutes. If you stay angry heíll just wonder why you arenít friends anymore.

Housetraining


The keys to success in housetraining are determination and timing. Be patient and positive. Reward works far better than punishment. Take a puppy outside as often as possible. Puppies need to eliminate frequently, especially 15 to 20 minutes after eating and after rigorous play. As they get older, they will be able to wait longer. Watch for signs such as whining or turning in a circle, then quickly pick the puppy up and take him outside. When he eliminates outside, praise him immediately, using a word of your choice for the action (always use the same word for it). Then play with him for a little while before bringing him back inside. He will learn that eliminating outside earns him praise and some extra playtime as well. What about mistakes? They will happen in the beginning. Do not punish a dog for this or he will simply hide from you for his next in-house elimination. Instead, correct him with a gentle, firm ďNo,Ē take him outside, say your word, and praise when he relieves himself. Then be sure youíre ready the next time he needs to go.

Using a Crate

Crates are useful for housetraining. A dog should have a cozy place to curl up, but he should not be kept locked in a crate his entire life. For housetraining, however, weeks of restriction can mean a lifetime of trusted freedom in the house. Feed the dog and within a reasonable amount of time take him outside to eliminate. Then put him in the crate with his toys and a blanket until itís time for him to eliminate again, never more than two hours for a puppy or four hours for an adult dog. Dogs do not like to eliminate in their play and sleep areas. The crate should be large enough for him to stand up and make a full turn, but no so large that he can have an area set aside for eliminating. Once the dog is housetrained, you can leave the crate with its door open. It will be a quiet place for him to relax or take a break.

 

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