We are proud to have the best group of dog trainers in Dallas working with us. Here are some tips and tricks they have to address some of the most comment dog behavior issues they encounter.
Jumping on People
Problem: One of the most common problems that is difficult for many dog owners to correct is jumping. Dogs learn this behavior during puppyhood, and unfortunately this is often unintentionally rewarded by owners. When dogs jump for attention, the most common reaction people have is to push the dog off, shout “No!” while making eye contact with the dog. Although we, as humans, consider this method to be logically sound, dogs see this differently. Pushing a dog away, shouting, and making eye contact is actually rewarding the dog’s request for attention. They think you are playing a game with them!
Solution: The best possible solution to this problem when a dog wants to jump up on you is to immediately turn your back to the dog, take a step AWAY from them and cross your arms. Simple. There’s no need to say anything or look at the dog. The dog is asking for attention in a way we find to be inappropriate, so by not giving the dog what he or she wants (because you have turned your back on him, moved away and not spoken to him), will help eliminate the unwanted behavior.
Crazy Crate Behavior
Problem: Your dog spends time in its crate while you are away. When you return, the dog starts barking, thrashing, pawing, digging, and sometimes even chewing the bars—which escalates until you let him out. This is another situation in which the behavior has been unintentionally rewarded. The dog learns that if it barks, thrashes, or paws, then he or she will be let out of the crate.
Solution: First, if the dog is so agitated that he is in danger of injuring himself while in the crate, do not attempt to try to correct this problem on your own. You may first want to have a consultation with one of PCPSI’s dog trainers. If the dog is simply overexcited but is not going to injure himself, then you should be able to handle the issue on your own. If the dog knows the sit command, tell them to sit before you open the crate door. DO NOT open the crate door until the dog sits. This teaches them that calm behavior is what gets you to open the door. If the dog does not know the “Sit” command yet, or simply won’t perform a “Sit” in their excited state, first sit on the floor to the side of the crate. Do not face the dog while you are sitting beside the crate. Wait calmly there in the sitting position for 60-120 seconds until the dog calms down. This normally will occur within this timeframe once the dog realizes he won’t be let out by thrashing around in excitement. Once the dog is calm, then let him out of the crate.
Problem: There are some dogs who pull on their leash so hard that they end up dragging anyone that walks them down the street. This is probably one of the most aggravating behavior problems that dog owners encounter, and can unfortunately lead to dogs not getting walked as regularly as they should. If your dog is a serious puller, it may be wise to recommend private dog training with one of our Dallas dog trainers to help correct this, as this can be a safety issue.
Solution: There are several ways to help minimize leash pulling, and training to extinguish this behavior must be consistent and used by all people walking the dog in order for it to work. If you are walking the dog regularly, you may notice improvement using these tips. Always remember to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings if the dog pulls hard, especially when encountering squirrels, other dogs, or people. Keep in mind that the dog’s motivation is always simply to continue walking forward!
One technique works well for mild pulling: as soon as the leash is taut, stop in your tracks. When the dog turns around to see what the hold-up is because you stopped, the leash will then go slack. The moment the leash has slack in it, you can praise and say “let’s go!” and continue walking. Eventually, the dog learns that pulling on the leash (and therefore, having pressure on the collar) means that the dog will be unable to go forward. Another technique useful for correcting leash pulling is to change your direction often and the dog will follow. Whenever the dog starts pulling on their taut leash, make a quick U-turn and walk in a different direction. This will teach them that pulling doesn’t get them to where they are trying to go. You must be consistent when using these techniques, otherwise they will not “stick.” Try them EVERY single time you are walking with the dog until you see improvement.
Runaway or Escapee Dogs
Problem: Many dogs don’t have very strong recall, especially in situations where they escape. They are likely more focused on the fact that they’re not on a leash and are free to go wherever they wish; or they may be chasing after another animal or something they’re interested in. A common pet owner’s response to this is to chase after their dog! That’s not always the best idea, as it will encourage them to keep running; the dog will likely think you are playing a game with them.
Solution: Remain calm. You need to act quickly before the dog gets out of your range. Get your dog’s attention any way you can – shout their name, make a noise, flail your arms, squeeze a squeaky toy — the instant the dog looks at you, you can either run in the other direction, away from the dog, to prompt the dog to chase you, or you can try squatting down and patting your legs. Squatting down to the dog’s level or running in the opposite direction generally causes the dog to come toward you to see what’s going on. In addition, when the dog does run back in your direction and he is safely contained again—praise him in a positive voice for returning—even if he was misbehaving by escaping. This may be difficult if you are angry that he escaped in the first place, but it is better to react with positivity upon his return, because you do not want his returning to you to be equated with being punished.
These are just some of the unwanted dog behaviors you may experience. If you need help addressing one of these issues, or a different type of problem, fill out our online dog training form and we will assign one of our amazing Dallas dog trainers to you.