Training Your Dog: Correcting Bad Behavior

Most dog owners make a critical mistake when they get a new puppy: they don’t spend any time training them for the first few months home. As a matter of fact, many new dog owners don’t worry about training until they see bad habits forming. Little do they know, they may have been able to skip over most of the bad stuff if they had only put in a little time before the bad behavior emerged.

It’s never too early to begin training your dog. Unlike a human baby, dogs seek leadership from their pack master (you) right from the start. They want boundaries and rules in place. They like order over chaos. Yes, your puppy is immature and will make mistakes, but that is what you are there for. You need to make the rules for him to break and then learn from. If he never has rules, the older he gets the more difficult it will be to instill new behaviors and it will be more difficult for you to establish your role as the pack master. Do yourself and him a favor and do it from day one.

Dog Obedience Training
This is the first type of training that you may present to your dog. This deals with basic commands which will make life much easier. If your dog can lay down, sit, and stay on command, you may save his life someday. Some of the most crucial and basic commands to teach your dog include:

  • Heel. This is the command to use when you want him to walk beside you. Not in front or behind you and not pulling you down the road!
  • Sit. This will teach him to sit on command, wherever he is.
  • Down. This will teach him to lie down on command, wherever he is.
  • Stay. This will teach him to stop what he is doing and stay put, whether sitting or lying.
  • Leave It. This will teach him to drop what he has or ignore something you don’t want him to chase.
  • Speak. This will teach him to bark on command.

Dog Behavioral Training
This is the second type of training that you may put your dog through and it deals with preventing or correcting bad behaviors. They may deal with a minor nuisance or major destructive habits. Whether your dog is too barky or destroys everything he crosses, behavioral training can help. Some issues you may be dealing with that Dog Behavioral Training may correct include:

  • Biting
  • Jumping
  • Chewing
  • Anxiety
  • Complete Non-Compliance

House Training
This is really the first place to begin with your puppy and should be introduced the minute you bring him home. If you don’t want to clean messes up every hour of the day and night, you will need to begin potty training right away. This includes crate training because dogs will usually not go to the bathroom where they sleep. I say usually because if you leave a puppy in a pet crate for 8 hours, he really has no choice but to go to the bathroom. It’s all about consistency and good judgment.

  • Puppies should be let out after each meal and at least once every hour. You need to plan on being home for a good deal of time if you want this to work well.
  • At night, take the food and water away at least 2 hours before bed time. Take him out to go potty before he goes into the crate and work your way up each night. Start with 3 or 4 hours in the crate and let him out. Then increase it until you have a solid 8 hours of him holding it at night time.
  • Always praise him lavishly when he goes potty outside and if he makes a mistake in the house, catch it right away while showing him and giving a stern “NO!” and rush him outside.

Professional Help for Difficult Dogs
Hopefully you didn’t let it get to this point, but if you did then you may need the help of a professional. Some dogs just have very bad habits that you cannot break, even if you did everything by the book. If you have a dog with anxiety or separation issues or a dog that is dangerous to other people or animals, you may benefit from their expertise.

About author

Erin Gleeson

Erin Gleeson is the Outreach Specialist at PetMeds and works with the PetMeds Cares donations program. She has loved animals as long as she can remember and has worked in several veterinary offices in the past as a veterinary technician. She has one cat, a middle-aged tabby/tortie from a south Florida cat rescue. You can also find Erin on Google+.

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