Ill-mannered dogs usually start off as ill-mannered puppies because of us! By learning one important factor of living with a dog, you can prevent those behavior problems from even starting. When your dog was a pup; mom and littermates taught them litter manners. Under no circumstances was he or she allowed to get away with anything…being “cute” did not earn “Brownie Points” in their pack.
A pup in the litter that oversteps boundaries, usually meets their match. If their littermates didn’t put them in their place, their mom sure would. Bad litter manners were unacceptable behaviors, that were quickly and firmly corrected. The actual behavior problems most often start after the pup leaves their first pack, and moves into their human pack. Their human pack often allow them to get away with unacceptable behaviors that was not tolerated by mom or their litter mates. . We are the ones who must teach them there is no such thing as a ‘FREE LUNCH”. Instead, because they are so cute, and we want them to love us, we allow them to do whatever they want.
Experienced dog owners know, without boundaries, there will be:
- JUMPING, because we encourage it. Rather than teaching him or her to be calm when greeting, we are often guilty of encouraging jumping, because we raise the excitement and energy level.
We challenge them physically, rather than mentally. Your puppy or dog should never challenge you!
- EXCESSIVE BARKING, because we thought it’s cute when he or she was a puppy with ”What’s that?” “Who’s there?” Barking is a self-rewarding behavior, that should not be encouraged. One or two barks is fine, after that, it needs to be stopped.
- GROWLING, NIPPING and SNAPPING usually happens because we thought it was cute. “Isn’t he cute…he’s holding his ground.” “She sure is showing who’s boss around here.” Tethering a puppy or dog also creates a frustrated, fearful, aggressive, unpredictable animal. Your puppy or dog must learn, never to challenge your status, even in play.
- BEGGING, because we feed them “treats” from the table and people food for merely existing. How many times have your heard someone say, “Aww, one little treat won’t hurt. He’s so cute!” Treats should only be given as training aids or as rewards for appropriate behavior!
- CHASING the cat, children, other animals, bikes or skateboards, because we encourage it with, “Get the kitty!” “Get him!” rather than discourage and immediately correcting them. Many breeds of dogs have a naturally high prey drive…they don’t need to be encouraged to chase anything! One day it could cost them their life.
- CHEWING inappropriate items normally happens because we don’t confine them when they are unsupervised. This also happens because we don’t provide and/or teach them with enough appropriate, safe, chew toys. For example, never give them an “old” shoe to chew! Your puppy or dog does not know the difference between an old shoe and that brand new pair of $200 shoes!
- GETTING ON THE FURNITURE, happens because we don’t teach them that is a privilege they have to earn, and it is not a right. It starts because we have not displayed our leader status, by giving a command they have to follow, before allowed the privilege of getting on the furniture. They simply assume it’s OK to do. You must understand, in your dog’s mind, getting on the furniture raises them in status.
The list can go on, and on.
The sole reason a dog is ill-mannered is simple. He does not know or respect your leader status! He has assumed that role and you unknowingly allowed it.
Learn how to be the leader of your pack. Dogs inherently follow the strongest leader. Take a positive reinforcement, punishment-free Puppy Kindergarten or Basic Obedience course in your area. It will allow you and your puppy or dog, to have quality time to bond together. It will also teach you, how to teach your pet the boundaries and manners they will need, to become a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog, in a way he will instinctively understand…strong leadership!
The most important thing to remember is to always be fair, firm, and consistent. It does work!