Dogs are a wonderful addition to the family, but like any family member, a dog can have some pretty annoying habits. If you don’t step in and get those habits under control, you can end up with a dog whose behavior is out of control.
What’s cute when your dog is a small puppy can become a nuisance–and even dangerous–when he’s an adult. A puppy jumping up on visitors might seem cute, but when you add 100 or more pounds to that little puppy, he’ll have the strength and body weight to injure your family members or guests and you don’t want that.
The five most common annoying dog habits are barking, jumping up on people, tearing up things, rough play and begging. But there are ways that you can successful curb each of these habits. I’ll talk about Barking in this post and following posts will address the other four bad habits.
Dogs make great early warning systems. If anyone comes around your house, a dog can alert you that someone is there before that person even reaches your door. So for safety and security, nothing can beat having a furry member of the family around.
There are times when you want your dog to bark. If there’s something going on outside your home, your dog alerts you by barking. This is his way of taking care of you and protecting you. Your dog can see and hear what you often don’t or can’t.
The wrong response on your behalf is if you ignore the barking or tell the dog to be quiet. He’s trying to tell you that he senses something isn’t right. So what you need to do when your dog is alerting toward a door or window is to find out why he’s barking.
If there is something going on and he barked for that reason, you don’t want him to be quiet. Instead, you want to reassure him that he did the right thing. Tell him “Good dog” and then have him go away from the alert point and sit or lie down.
The kind of barking that can become an annoying habit is when a dog barks for what seems to you to be no reason. Dogs always have a reason, but not all barking is necessary. For the same reason that humans eat when they’re not hungry, dogs will bark when nothing is going on.
They’ll bark because they’re excited, bored or in response to other dogs barking. It’s their pack mentality that causes that–even though they may not be in a pack at this time.
If your dog barks because he’s excited, calm him down. If he barks because he’s bored, it’s a sign that he needs more physical action. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise as well as social time with other dogs.
Never reward barking with activities your dog likes, such as by taking your dog for a walk or giving him a treat. He’ll learn that if he’s not quiet, he gets a walk or a treat and you don’t want him to train you!
When you return home after being gone, your dog will often bark in short bursts because he’s glad you’re home. That’s simply his way of telling you that. He needs to be patted and reassured and he should stop barking once he’s finished greeting you.
When your dog engages in incessant barking, you want to gently close your dog’s mouth and say a firm, ‘Quiet’ or another command associated with him not barking. You want to use one word commands because dogs understand one word commands better than they do an entire string of words. If, when you move your hand away from your dog’s muzzle, he begins to bark again, you’ll want to repeat your action of closing his muzzle and giving him the ‘Quiet’ command.
You can get your dog used to the quiet command by rewarding him when he does obey the command. This can be a verbal ‘Good boy’ or a treat. Some pet owners use anti-barking collars or products that will emit a loud, startling sound when the dog barks.
Most dogs can be easily trained to be quiet with just a command. If your dog just doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of barking only when necessary, you may need to enroll him in an obedience class.