6 Tips for Fixing a Dog Behavior Problem
Fixing a dog behavior problem is usually simple. Instead of getting frustrated and angry, calmly evaluate the situation and work with your family to agree on the best solution.
Tip One: Decide on a Plan
Before you can fix a behavior problem, you need to make sure everyone in your family is on the same page. If you are working to fix the behavior, but everyone else is reinforcing the bad behavior, your training program isn’t going to get very far. Work with your family to establish some rules.
Tip Two: Examine your Behavior
If a bad behavior persists, you are doing something to contribute to the problem. For example, if your dog is jumping, are you yelling at the dog? Pushing him off? All these things are reinforcing. You are touching him, looking at him and talking to him. Though you mean to punish him, you are actually reinforcing the behavior.
Look at how you are reacting to the situation and determine what is reinforcing your dog. Then, change your reaction. In our jumping example, ignore your dog when he jumps by turning your back and walking away.
Tip Three: Reward Good Behavior
Too often we inadvertently reward bad behavior and then ignore good behavior. When your dog stops jumping, for example, you are then free to walk in the door, so you stop paying attention to the dog. Now, he learns that he is ignored when he doesn’t jump.
To reduce bad behavior, reverse this trend. Ignore the jumping and praise and pet your dog when he is calmly standing beside you. Even if you don’t have treats, a simple “good boy” does the trick when your dog does something that you like.
Tip Four: Teach an Incompatible Behavior
Think about what you would like your dog to do instead of the bad behavior and teach him how to do that using positive reinforcement. For example, if your dog gets underfoot while you are cooking, teach him to go lie in a bed in the corner. This way, he is still in the kitchen watching, but he’s not in the way. To reward him for this behavior, intermittently toss him a treat, praise him or go to the bed to pet him.
Tip Five: Start Small and Build Up
In our previous example, you can’t expect your dog to go to his spot and lie there for an hour when you first teach the behavior. You start by standing right by the bed, sending him to it and reward him for standing on the bed for a second or two. Then, you slowly build up amount of time he can stay. You slowly build the distance that you can move from the bed. If your dog ever breaks the stay, you are moving too fast.
Tip Six: Be Consistent
The secret to successful training is consistency. If you sometimes pet your dog while he’s jumping on you and sometimes punish him, he doesn’t know what to do. He will try jumping every time because it sometimes gets him attention. However, if he never get attention when he jumps, he will stop.
Building a training program depends on the dog and the behavior, but every training program relies on the same basic concepts. Be positive and consistent, and your dog will begin to respond.