Behaviour tips for great dogs

Behaviour problems are the most common reason for people to stop looking after their pets. The most important part of owning a pet is providing them with clear leadership and training so they know how to behave the way you need them to. Giving accurate and consistent rewards to your pet gives them predictability in their life which reduces their stress and builds trust. Another benefit of understanding your pet’s behaviour is it often gives you an early indication your pet has a health problem.

Teach your dog how you want them to behave

We as pet owners often give confusing signals to pets and can lose sight of the behaviour we want our pets to have. It’s wonderful to get the big excited greeting when we come home but it can be embarrassing when visitors get jumped on and licked when they come over. Manners can be taught easily by rewarding a calm relaxed dog and ignoring the overly excited behaviour. Simply turn away from your dog, not engaging with them until they have calmed down. Then as soon as they are performing the behaviour you want, give them attention as a reward.

Teaching Manners

The most important lessons all dogs should learn are:

  • Sit before interacting with people.
  • Lie on a mat quietly.
  • Walk on a loose lead.
  • Come on cue.

To get started here is the way to teach a dog to sit.

Step 1

Take a small piece of treat such as a liver treat or schmacko and hold between fingers and thumb.

Place this hand close to the front of your pet’s nose.

Step 2

Raise the hand above their nose and then backwards. Your pet’s head will move to follow the treat.

Eventually, your dog will sit, because it will be more comfortable.

Step 3

As soon as they are performing the action link this behaviour with a verbal cue by saying “sit” and giving the reward as they sit.

Note: Once your pet knows a treat is in your hand it can become trickier to get them to respond without a treat. Using kind praise instead of treats or hiding the treat in your hand will make it harder for them to pick when you have a treat and not.

How to stop bad behaviour

It is more important in many cases to stop giving your pet attention when they do the wrong thing. Don’t get upset or angry as this can create fear and erode trust in your relationship. If you are inconsistent with your demands and responses this leads to significant anxiety and distress for your pets as they don’t understand why and when they are getting punished. It is much kinder to ignore them until they are behaving as you would want them to and reward them with treats and attention then.

 Dogs can be persistent and it can be difficult to eliminate bad habits so you have to be able to outlast their efforts of jumping and attention seeking. If they cant be ignored for long enough or they are damaging something important then a distraction is needed to direct their attention away from what they are doing. They can be distracted by squeaking a toy or calling their name then rewarding them as soon as they stop doing the unwanted behaviour and paying attention to you. This will teach your pet that it is better to pay attention to you than doing the unwanted behaviour. Once your dog is listening, you can ask them to come or sit and you can save any precious items they have found.

Making playtime fun and safe

Puppies and dogs love to play and interact with others. To do this safely they need to be taught some boundaries. They should be taught to play with toys only and should learn that human hands, feet or any other body part are not toys. Stop playing with them if they try and bite hands or feet. As soon as they let go and calm down, direct the chewing onto a large toy and resume playing as reward. Pets do not instinctively know a toy is a plaything and must be taught. It is important when introducing a new toy to teach them how to interact with it instead of just tossing it to them and expecting them to know how it works.

Puppy Preschool at South Cranbourne Veterinary Surgery

If you have a puppy between 8 and 16wks then come to our puppy preschool and teach them socialisation skills that can foster a more relaxed and confident dog. The aim of the classes is to educate you on pet care, get the puppies used to the veterinary clinic and learn to accept and relax in new situations. We teach the important lessons for all dogs to know and give your pets lots of rewards and fun times. Click here for more information about our Puppy Preschool Program.

Diseases can make you pet do bad things

Not all bad behaviour is under the pets control. There are lots of diseases and disorders that can result in unwanted behaviour. If you are concerned about any behavioural issues contact the clinic so we can go through the diagnostic process and help to solve the issue.