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What are the Most Common Dog Behavioral Problems?

Dogs that misbehave may be getting mixed message, or the wrong message, from their owners. Here are the top 10 ways in which dog lovers inadvertently encourage their dogs to misbehave- with advice from the experts at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine on achieving the behavior you want.

Mistake # 1  Rewarding an overexcited barker

The Problem: When the dog is excited and barking, he gets fed, walked or exercised. When the dog rubs paws of leans against its humans while they're reading or watching TV, he gets petted.

The Solution:  "In these cases the dog controls the situation. Dogs should sit and be calm before they get food, walks and so on," says Karen Overall, MD VMD, PhD a certified animal behaviorist, a research associate in psychiatry at University of Pennsylvania and the former director of the Behavior Clinic in the School of Veterinary Medicine. "Under no circumstances should the clients touch, love or otherwise interact with the dog unless the dog defers and awaits attention. The dog must sit and be quiet to earn anything and everything it wants for the rest of its life." Otherwise dog lovers reinforce the dog to bark, whine, paw and push, demanding attention.

Mistake # 2  Giving negative attention

The Problem: When a dog barks too much, the
dog lover screeches at the dog; when the dog jumps on someone, the dog lover might knee him in the chest or step on his back toes. "If dogs don't know how to get attention by being calm, they'll find other ways," noted Overall, who believes that clients should never physically reprimand their dogs.

The Solution:  Instead, the dog should be taught to do something positive, like sit near the door when people enter. This behavior should be rewarded with praise and treat. Using a loose head collar helps when company is expected, if the dog jumps or barks, guide him gently pulling the collar, then have him sit and reward her for doing so.

Mistake # 3  Thinking the crate is like a prison, and therefore not crating the dog.

The Problem:  Improper use of crating, which can be a valuable training tool when correctly used. "Crates are overused and have created an epidemic of under-exercised, incarcerated dogs", says Overall, who stresses that crated should never substitute for meeting a dog's needs for play and exercise.
Dogs that panic in crates should never be crated.

The Solution:  Dogs that are introduced to their crate appropriately usually learn to love their crates as a safe sanctuary where the animal doesn't have to worry about being teased by children or tripped over. Crates can be easy and painless way to aid in house training a new dog, as well as to keep puppies out of trouble when no one is home.

Mistake #4  Giving puppy the run of the house

The Problem:  If left unattended, puppies may soil the house or chew inappropriate items unnoticed.

The Solution:  You can only correct a puppy when he is caught in the act, Then you can swoop him up to go outside or direct his attention to appropriate items to chew, Puppies that can't be watched should be crated or put in a puppy proofed space.

Mistake #5   Inappropriate response to misdeeds

The Problem:  The dog lover discovers a mess made by the dog; He pushed the dog's nose into the mess, smacks and yells at the dog, and then puts the dog into a crate to punish him.

The Solution:  Starling a dog to get him to stop a behavior is only effective within one second of the misdeed, Overall says. Otherwise, bad behaviors must be ignored. Any harsh, physical punishment can foster fear, distrust, anxiety, and submissive urination, if you catch the dog in the act, startle him by swooping him up to take outside or limit the dog's access until you can directly supervise and redirect the dog. Never use crates for punishment.

Mistake # 6  Chasing your dog and playing tug of war

The Problem:  Chasing a dog teaches him to run away from you. Tug of war games can hurt the dog and teach him to be rough.

The Solution:  If the dog can sit quietly before tugging, can play gently, and will stop on cue, tugging can be fun. "Be sure to drop the toy and game the second that teeth touch skin" and ask the dog to sit and wait to end the game, Overall advises.

Mistake #7  Wrestling with the dog and allowing him to mouth your hands and arms

The Problem:  "People often believe they can teach their dogs to be protective by wrestling with them. This is dangerous and can teach the dog to treat the family roughly, "says Overall

The Solution:  Use toys instead of body parts to play. If a pup uses its mouth, say "no" immediately, freeze, remove your hand or arm, and immediately
offer the dog something else to mouth. 

Mistake # 8   Pushing the dog into shitting or down position when he doesn't obey a command

The problem:  "People who have to use physical contact are already in an adversarial situation," says overall. "Many dogs don't know what you
want because it's all background noise."

The Solution:  One easy way to teach a dog "down" command is to wait until the dog begins to lie down. Then verbalized the command, "down" and
immediately reward him with a favorite treat. 

Mistake # 9  Rewarding a begging dog with table scraps

The Problem:  Family members feed the dog good scraps when it leans, paws, or whines, when you're at the dinner table. By giving food to the dog at its request, you are encouraging the dog to be demanding and beg.

The Solution:  "if you want to feed a dog from the table, do it only when the dog is lying down and quiet." That way you are rewarding relaxed behaviors in a context-specific manner, " Overall says.

Mistake # 10  Struggling with a dog who pulls at the leash

The Problem:  When a dog pulls on the leash, the walkers pulls back, yells at the dog and keeps walking. Dogs push against pressure and when a person yells but keeps walking the dog, will continue pulling as he is getting his walk and getting attention.

The Solution:  Instead, use a head collar, "Head collars transfer the pressure to the back of the neck as a stop signal. If everyone just used a head collar from the beginning, most pets would never learn to walk inappropriately on a regular leash.

Training Tips from Pros

  • Try to "catch" your dog being good, always reward him for being quiet and calm. 
  • Never punish a dog, you should ignore bad behavior, distract with a loud noise, or turn his attention to doing something appropriate. 
  • Keep commands simple and consistent among all family members. 
  • Never scold a dog for coming to you, even if he's being naughty before coming. Always praise because now he's doing the right thing, and you don't want to discourage him from him coming to you in the future.