Whether your dog is 8 weeks old or 8 months old, there’s always the chance of your dog developing bad habits.
What am I talking about you ask?
Dogs can develop these behaviors based on many things. They might start jumping because they’re small in stature. They might bark because there are things outside of the house that they can see and they’re just doing their job by letting you know that something is out there. They might dig because they’re bored or simply hot. Or, they might start chewing on something because they’re teething and it hurt or, again, they’re simply bored.
Whatever the reason might be, I thought I would offer up some of the go to methods that have worked with my past clients. Let’s get to it!
Generally, dogs are jumping out of excitement. They are happy to see us, they want to get closer to the area that we communicate from, they want to share their excitement with us.
While we might be JUST as excited to see them, having holes put in your favorite clothes or getting dirt on your beautiful work clothes shouldn’t come with that excitement.
With the jumping, I either go one of two ways. 1. The pup is calm enough to stop jumping on their own for a moment, and you ask for a replacement behavior, a behavior that is to replace the inappropriate/unwanted behavior. In this case, it might be a sit behavior or a down behavior. Whatever you ask for, make sure that your dog would have trouble jumping from the desired position.
Or 2. You straight arm your dog.
Dogs are adaptive animals and they often learn through consequence what they can get away from. Remember when I said that dogs are jumping for excitement? The end goal is to have you be excited with them and show them you’re excited as well. If you show your dog that 1. They can’t jump and 2. They’ll get the excited reaction they desire IF they don’t jump, you’ve just solved your problem.
You’ll place your thumb in your dog’s collar and lock out your elbow. By doing this, you’re not holding your dog down, you’re just not giving them the space they would need to actually jump up on you. When you feel like your dog is done jumping, then you remove your thumb and softly pet your dog. The reason I say softly is because your dog is already super excited and if you come at them like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew, they’re going to match that energy. You need to match the energy you want your dog to give you.
Oh, the barking!! For this behavior, you can teach your dog a “Quiet” behavior where you have a word or a visual cue you can give to tell them to be quiet. You would start teaching this behavior NOT when your dog is excited and barking, but when they’re relaxed inside. Since it’s difficult to lure your dog into being quiet, you would just capture the behavior when your dog is quiet and reward them for being quiet after giving the verbal or visual cue.
If you’ve never read any of my posts before, one thing that is a MUST take away from dog training is that it’s not about getting the desired result in a set amount of time or your dog being perfect, but making sure that your dog is consistently having winning moments. It’s up to us to make sure that we manipulate the situations so that happens as often as possible.
The other method I use to stop dogs from barking is desensitizing them to being around those stressors, those things that are making them bark. In this situation, your dog is barking because they see or hear something. The key is to lessen the intensity of the stressor, either by adding distance or decreasing the sound, training your dog to be ok with it, and then slowly increasing that intensity.
I use a person with arachnophobia example in class. Imagine someone is deathly afraid of spiders. Now image you telling them there’s one five feet behind them. They’re probably going to jump out of their skin, and would knock over a baby to get out of the way, right? Now, tell that same person that there’s a spider, but it’s at least forty feet away. They probably might get a little freaked out but not nearly what they were before. Whenever you’re working with your dog and a stressor is involved, distance is your friend.
I. Hate. Digging. Seriously. The main reason I hate digging is because my husband is a freak about the lawn. It is what it is. Digging can happen from a number is reasons. The first one I jump to is boredom. Is your dog bored? Do they have anything/one to keep them occupied? Are they cooped up in the backyard for extended periods by themselves? Are they getting enough exercise or mental stimulation?
Some quick fixes would be to give them something to do while you’re away like a frozen bowl of water/meat broth with treats/toys in it during the day. (Note: In Florida, during the summer, I’m thinking you have maybe 45 minutes’ tops just because it’s hot as all get out. Sorry)
Another idea I’ve had is to create an area that they’re actually allowed to dig in. Pick a small area in your lawn, maybe 10 x 10, and dig up the grass. Put dirt, potting soil, mulch chips, whatever medium you think your dog would like to dig in, in place of the grass, and put some stuff in there for your dog to find. Maybe a toy. Maybe a broth soaked rag inside of a small Tupperware container with a hole in the top.
One reason your dog might be digging is because they smell things below the surface. I don’t have a solution for this other than, with the example from above, give them something to look for in the digging pit.
Sometimes our dogs get hot and it’s cooler the further they dig down. If you find that they’re digging on hot days, you can try keeping them inside OR giving them some shade to get cooler under. OOOOO, you can also try a kiddie pool. Who doesn’t like one of those: J
Another solution I can give you is to put one of their bombs in the hole and cover it up. If a dog smells that they’ve gone #2 in that spot, they generally won’t dig there. I once had a client ask me that if he watered a bunch down and made a spray with it, would the dog leave something alone. Y’all, I don’t even want to think about it.
The first thing that pops into my head is teething. When puppies are around the four-month mark, they start to lose their milk teeth. Those are all the knife-like dagger in their mouths. Imagine a baby getting a tooth in. It hurt and their gums are tender. Same thing for a dog. They’re chewing on something because the added pressure takes the pain away and it feels goon on their gums.
You can try giving them a frozen carrot, depending on what type of chewer your dog is and what size they are. You can also try freezing a rag soaked in watered down beef or vegetable broth. (I suggest watering the broth down just because of the sodium content). The cold will feel good on their gums and it will taste good.
Another reason your dog might be chewing is because if boredom. If they don’t have an outlet, either physically or mentally, they need to channel that energy toward something else and chewing is sometimes the outcome. You can try doing some random training with your dog or take him/her for an extra walk after you get home from work.
I know it might sound strenuous, especially after a long hard day, but would you rather have your favorite heels chewed on or get some extra exercise? Plus, if you haven’t tried, you don’t know if it’ll work or not. If it doesn’t work, you can always try something else.
Also, your dog’s teeth and mouth strength increase as they age. They might need something harder (a.k.a. more satisfying) to chew on. You can try deer/elk antlers. You can also get water buffalo horns at Walmart. One of my favorite places to get dog toys is dogsupplies.com. They’re a wholesaling website for pet animal things. I get my Kong and Chuckit toys form there. LOVE THEM!!!!
If you’ve continued to read all the way down here, let me thank you! I really, really appreciate it.
I hope you’ve found this post insightful and helpful. If you’ve had success ending one of the dreaded problem behaviors using another method than the one I've listed above, comment below and let me know.
As always, show your dog some love today, and Happy TrainingJ