We all love dogs, they’re our best friends and have been for hundreds and thousands of years. But everyone who’s owned a dog through those millennia can all agree that sometimes they can be a bit of a handful! If your pup’s behavior is growing unacceptable, it’s important that you start acting quickly to make sure that those behaviors don’t become an ingrained part of their personality. So, how do you get back on track with your dog and become queen (or king) of the pack?
Make sure you’re meeting their needs
Sometimes, a dog isn’t behaving badly just because it’s part of their personality. For instance, does your dog have the habit of chewing up the furniture? This is a problem all new dogs and it can be a result of teething, for which they make specialist toys. But all dogs also have their own energy reserves. If they’re not getting enough play and enough walking time to spend that energy, they will look for other ways to do it. Don’t forget that puppies regularly have a “puppy madness” where they just get super hyper in the evenings. It’s not permanent and often just goes away with age.
Positive and negative reinforcement
If your dog is showing signs of aggression, it can be for a whole variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s territorial or protective. If something is encroaching on a person, thing, or place that the dog considers its own, a dog that isn’t thoroughly trained can display aggressive behaviors. It’s important not to think that hitting the dog or shouting at them is going to help. Instead, it can only heighten the chances of the behavior repeating itself in future. Always work with a behavioral expert if your dog is aggressive. On the other side of things, learn to reward dogs for good behavior. Dog treats like duck jerky isn’t just a little bonus for them. They can be used to reward positive, patient, calm behavior and teach them commands. When you give them treats, make them earn it. They will associate the positive behavior and listen to your commands with receiving a treat, which means it’s likely to be more effective.
Socialize often and responsibly
Aggression can also be dictated by how well-socialized dogs are from early in their life. Dogs that don’t experience time with other humans and other dogs tend to be warier of them. Socialization classes exist for dogs of all ages, but by surrounding them with new experiences and new friends early, then they have a much better chance of showing acceptable behavior when encountering new dogs and new people. How you act when they’re socializing can have a big impact, too. Dogs mirror their owners. If you’re acting overly protective or panicky about an interaction, they can start feeling that energy and showing it, too.
The relationship between an owner and their dog is a tricky one. Learning how to speak assertively and knowing when to put your foot down can be hard to master at first if mostly you just want to baby-talk them and pet them. But you have to be more than a friend to your dog, you have to be their guardian and their leader otherwise you’re at more risk of seeing some of the worst kinds of behavior from them.
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