Archive for the ‘Bad Behaviour’ Category

How To Get Your Puppy To Stop Stealing Clothes

Samantha | July 28th, 2012
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Puppies are like little children in that they need constant discipline and a watchful eye to be sure that they can learn the rules of your house. Some puppies have major behavior problems, while others display the typical scenarios, such as stealing clothes and other small items around the house as if it were a game.

Puppies are notorious for stealing anything that they can get their mouths on and then run away with it. At first this little habit is cute and very comical. However, after a while it needs to be seriously addressed because as the puppy matures into an adult dog, he will think that he is allowed to eat anything in the house, including your expensive shoes and nice furniture.

There are several ways to handle a puppy that is stealing your cloths and other items from around the house. One way to get your puppy to drop something from his mouth immediately is to simply walk out of the room and shut the door behind you. For example, let’s say you are in your room and your dog grabs a sock from the corner closet and runs around the room avoiding you at all costs. This is just a game to him, nothing more. So what you need to do is quickly have him lose interest in the game by just leaving the room with the door closed. In less than 10 seconds your puppy will drop the sock and start crying for your presence.

Another way to distract your puppy from stealing clothes and other small items is to distract him by running to the door and shaking your keys so that he understands that you are going to take him outside (dogs quickly associate the jingle of keys to someone leaving the house).

Now take the dog into the yard or the sidewalk for just a few minutes. If you do this enough, eventually your puppy will be able to stop playing his little thief game anytime you shake your keys. It’s all about distraction and training your puppy’s mind to associate something else of importance whenever he attempts to break the rules.

Last but not least, as I always recommend for most common behavioral problems with dogs, get yourself a small water bottle that you can use to squirt your puppy. Of course you do not want to torture your dog by squirting them in the eye or anything like that, but a little spritz of water can go a long way when trying to get your dog to stop whatever behavioral problem he keeps getting into.

Whenever you see your puppy grabbing something and running around the house with it, give them a quick squirt and a firm “no” command. He will be so surprised and shocked that he will quickly drop anything from his mouth while learning that this is one rule he cannot break.

How To Handle The Ultra-Exuberant Labrador

Peter | January 4th, 2009
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For those ultra-exuberant Labs who have trouble controlling themselves from jumping on people, even after being taught the sit and off commands, a harness and leash in the house can help immensely.

Put the harness and leash on, then sit in a chair and put your foot on the leash so there’s only enough slack for the dog to stand up or sit, but not to jump up. This way you aren’t jerking the dog around or punishing it, and if the dog starts to jump up, it can’t. Just make sure the leash is firmly under your feet with a wide enough base so you don’t get pulled off the chair!

Although the harness is a way to manage jumping behavior it must be coupled with teaching the sit command with lots of positive reinforcement. This will keep your Lab from performing the behavior you don’t want, while teaching it the behavior you do want. You want to physically prevent them from jumping up, then immediately train them to sit with a big reward.

A headcollar, which fits over the muzzle (similar to a horse halter), is another option for over-exuberant Labs, especially those that pull on a leash. Many dog trainers are great fans of the headcollar for over-excited dogs. It’s a fabulous management tool.

Use it in the house or on walks while your dog is learning how to walk on leash, so you aren’t getting your arm yanked out of its socket. Also, headcollars can help potential adopters to recognize that they can handle that 75-pound, full-grown Labrador Retriever.

Don’t Give Up!

Most importantly, all new owners of adopted Labs are urged not to give up on their rambunctious buddies. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for these dogs. Work with them every day that you can. Provide as much time needed to get them domesticated to your needs and the needs of the family.

Seek out a qualified, positive trainer, and get the help you need. Particularly good would be a trainer that has experience with training adolescent and adult dogs.

Be patient, consistent and understanding, and one day the Labrador fairy will raise her magic wand and sprinkle her magic dust over your Lab. Suddenly, you’ll realize that your hyperactive shelter Lab has become a really great, respectable, and well-trained family pet, one that your neighbors will be envious of.

Your Adopted Labrador Retriever Can Learn To Behave

Gemma | December 24th, 2008
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If you adopt an adult Lab from a shelter or rescue group, you certainly can’t go back in time to puppyhood to avoid behavior problems. But don’t despair! Your Lab can still learn how to behave.

Habits that have taken a year to develop won’t disappear overnight. Consistency and patience are required to train a Lab of any age. You can’t let your Lab get away with something once just because you are tired. You can’t pat it on the head for jumping on you one day because it’s cute, then yell at it for jumping on you the next day when you are in your work clothes.

The trick is to see the pearl in the oyster, so to speak. You can have a wonderful family dog hidden inside that rambunctious adolescent. All you need to do is channel that energy with patience and nurture those natural Lab tendencies into behaviors that are appropriate for life with the typical loving family.

Back To The Basics

They key to training a shelter Lab, a Lab from a rescue group, or any adolescent or adult Lab is simple. The golden rule in training is to forget that they are adolescents or adult dogs and treat them just how you would treat an 8-week old puppy – using positive training methods.

In many cases, people who adopt adult Labs from the shelter believe an older dog should know better, and this can set both dog and human up for failure and disappointment. If your adopted Lab is acting up, it isn’t because it is being spiteful. Just because a dog is older doesn’t mean it should know better.

A lot of people get really resentful about the behavior of their shelter Labs. They think their dog is abnormal because it isn’t acting like that calm, sweet, mellow Lab down the street. But this is normal behavior for Lab puppies and also for adolescent Labs that haven’t had any training or that don’t understand what is expected of them.

This kind of behavior is frustrating, but you have to understand the Lab’s natural tendencies and you have to be patient. Rambunctious behavior from a shelter dog is actually a good thing. A dog that has been moved around a lot tends to be insecure and overwhelmed, leaving it subdued for a few weeks when placed in a new home.

The dog isn’t sure whether it is going to stay with you but when he starts jumping up and running around like a toddler, that’s really good news! It means that your Lab is finally feeling comfortable and starts acting more normal. At this point, you can manage training problems and start back at square one, as if it were a puppy.

Why Do Labrador Retrievers Become Destructive?

Kate | June 23rd, 2008
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The difference between a good Labrador Retriever owner and a disastrous one depends on whether or not that person leads an active lifestyle. To put it in simple terms, labs were bred to be extremely active when in the company of hunters, from dawn to dusk. They used to run, swim, and retrieve foul for up to 16 hours each day, or more.

Labs have extremely high energy levels and just because your Labrador Retriever does not go out hunting, it does not mean that this dog is missing its inner expression to release the same amount of energy. This is great news for active people who like to swim, jog, and play fetch games as often as possible.

The term disastrous dog owner would best describe a person who is raising a Lab but absolutely hates going outside and being active. There are many people out there who love nothing more than to sit around the house all day watching television while they expect their Lab dogs to lay quietly alongside their feet with no need at all to run and play.

These types of people tend to complain that their pets are overactive and causing too much trouble around the house. However, the truth is that the dogs are perfectly healthy and literally wired and itching to move around. It is the way they were genetically programmed. It is what they were bred to do. Therefore, the problem lies within the owner, not the Lab.

Think Long & Hard Before Buying A Lab Puppy

Most people who run out and buy a puppy, especially one as active as a Labrador Retriever, have a tendency to overestimate the amount of play-time they can invest in their dog. Eventually, the excitement and joy of playing with a new puppy subsides and when the dog owner gets bored, these little balls of energy are left to entertain themselves.

Adult Labrador dogs need a minimum of one hour each and every day, both in the morning and again at night, to participate in strenuous, interactive physical activities. This does not mean simply letting your dog out in the yard by itself while you cook dinner. This will not suffice as playtime. Labs need a partner to run and fetch with. Left to themselves for physical activity will prove unsuccessful as Labs tend not to exercise by themselves in a constructive manner.

When Labs Become Destructive

You can’t just open up the door and tell your Lab to go play. While some dogs are independent enough to run around outside by themselves, Labrador Retrievers need someone to play with and if you are not around then they may become destructive. Behaviors such as non-stop barking, chewing, and digging up the yard will become commonplace.

Should your Lab start to demonstrate these types of negative activities, the last thing you want to do is become frustrated and deem your pet aggressive. The truth is that he is just doing what you wanted him to do: entertain himself.

Unless you are there to direct your Lab and be the leader while taking fun trips outside in the form of a hike, a jog, or retrieving games in the water, you must take responsibility for his destructive behavior and know that it is your fault and your responsibility to take charge of your Lab’s physical needs.

Help… My Labrador Retriever Is Eating The Furniture!

Kate | June 19th, 2008
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Many new Lab owners are not familiar with the fact that these puppies have a natural tendency to nip and bite at human hands and arms. In fact, these little guys will put anything in their mouths that can fit. Unfortunately, some dog owners mistake this behavior as pure biting and unfairly scold and punish the animal. You must understand that Labradors are genetically designed to have an oral fixation, specifically for retrieving.

They must be trained with positive reinforcement not to mouth and bite at people’s limbs. A fitting analogy is to look at a Labrador puppy the same as a piranha, but with fur. They run around with their mouths open literally hunting down anything to put in it, something, anything, whatever they can find!

When these puppies get older they have a tendency to start grabbing onto your arms and clothing. Such behavior should be considered inappropriate and completely stopped before it develops into an act of dominance. But as you may have heard before, training a Labrador not to grab onto your arms and clothes with its mouth needs to be carefully instituted. You can never totally stop your Lab from putting things in its mouth but you can certainly teach him to make better choices.

Health Problems Due To Mouthing Stuff

Another fitting analogy to describe the oral fixation of a Labrador Retriever is to consider them like vacuum cleaners. Many times they accidentally suck up and swallow objects which can lead to health problems, especially if they get a hold of products that have poisons in them.

Labradors have been known to swallow toys, balls, rocks, socks, rawhide, bicycle seats, and even knives! Basically anything that can fit in their mouth and down its throat is fair game to the motivated Labrador Retriever. It is good advice to de-fluff your pillows, remove sofa cushions, and discard any loose toys or items around your house that could cause harm if swallowed.

I once came home to find one of my wooden dresser drawers completely removed from the entire unit. The front panel was torn off and I had clothes everywhere. As I was cleaning up the mess I noticed that there was small pieces of wood chips all over the room and the front panel was nowhere to be found. As you can probably guess, my lab chewed up and ate the entire front panel, even the metallic handle was gone! Luckily he did not suffer any internal damages and the handle passed through his system without harm.

The answer to raising a lab while minimizing personal damages to both your home and your dog is to doggie-proof anything and everything you can find. Supervision also plays a huge role in training your dog not to chew up certain items. You must have plenty of time to invest into your Lab which will prove to be time well spent as you watch your dog grow into a well-mannered adult.

Free To A Good Home: Training The New Dog Owner – Part 4

Gemma | August 4th, 2006
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A yapping dog, guilty of excessive barking, can be a nuisance to everyone in your neighborhood. If this bad habit is not abated, Buddy could become the target of an irate neighbor-turned-poisoner.

You could likewise become the target of a civil suit. If you truly love Buddy, give him just four days of your time with proper schooling. In cases of excessive barking, rarely does it take the full four days for Buddy to get the message.

Your investment into a cheap toy water gun can actually be instrumental in saving your dog’s life. Fill it with water and keep it handy. There is a distinct difference in a dog’s bark when he warms off an intruder and when he is simply barking for the sheer joy of it it all.

Some will bark simply because they hear a canine relative barking in the distance, and some will bark simply because they’ve learned that it gets them some attention. If you go to your dog to quiet him down lovingly, you simply compound the problem.

Bringing you on the scene with his bark will have then resulted in a pleasant experience and you can be sure that it will be repeated over and over again. If you rush to your dog and beat him to quiet him down, again you compound the problem. Buddy will quickly learn to keep a safe distance between you and him… but he will still have accomplished his purpose, bringing you out to keep him company.

Here Is What You Do

When your dog is guilty of non-stop barking, put a smile on your face, calmly grab your water gun, and go to Buddy and give him a shot of water directly in between his eyes, accompanied by the verbal command OUT! and without another word, repeat the performance again.

Remember… one squirt, one verbal command. The key here is consistency. Adopt the attitude that whenever your dog barks he is asking you, in his own language, to come out and give him a squirt.

Within four days, your dog will interpret your actions in his own dog mind: That dumb clown sure don’t dig dog talk. Everything I bark, he thinks I’m asking to be squirted.

Within four days Buddy will learn to bark in a whisper. He will have come to the conclusion that you’re not hip to dog talk and rather than continue participation in your silly little game, he’d be much better off to keep his mouth shut.

Keeping in mind that dogs learn by association will go a long way toward helping you bring Buddy into the family fold. Don’t rely on cookies and dog treats as the rewarding experience. You can’t break a dog from excessive barking by stuffing his mouth full of goodies.

If discontinuance of a bad habit is desired, the pursuance of that habit by the dog must be accompanied by an unpleasant result. Beating your dog is not the answer, and will only create more problems.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4

Free To A Good Home: Training The New Dog Owner – Part 3

Gemma | August 2nd, 2006
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The most trouble that people have with new dogs that are kept out in the yard would be the transplant the shrubbery game. The cause here is one primarily of boredom. That’s right… sheer boredom. Dogs need toys of their own, just as small children do.

As a small child, I recall vividly the boring hour that separated my arrival home from school from my dad’s arrival home from work. The apartment was small, and I had no toys. I soon discovered that playing with dad’s coin collection was more interesting than staring at four walls.

It just so happened that the ice cream truck came by during that hour, and it wasn’t many such hours before the driver of the ice cream truck became the owner of my dad’s coin collection!

Buddy’s boredom will get him into trouble too. Buddy needs toys of his own, and these toys should be rotated periodically so that he doesn’t tire of the same toys. You can buy a baby a new fancy rattle, and it’ll keep baby occupied for a while. But he’ll soon tire of it unless you rotate that plaything with other playthings.

If you are content that Buddy has ample and adequate toys, but he continues to get into mischief by digging up your favorite plants, this bad habit can be cured by a similar method used for destructive chewing – the entire plant should be tied to his mouth for about an hour or more for each occurrence, and will become an unpleasant and unpalatable object within the time-frame of four days.

Hole Digging

Hole digging is another matter. The hole should be filled with water and the following procedure carried out with the thought in mind that Buddy wanted to go swimming or would not otherwise have dug the hole.

Buddy should have his head immersed in each instance that he sees fit to dig a hole. This should not be done while you are emotionally upset or appear angry. Rather, your attitude should reflect fun… fun… fun…

After five seconds under water, Buddy is released and allowed to retreat five or ten yards away to shake off. Try to coax Buddy back to the water hole, exhibiting surprise that he doesn’t want to continue the game.

When the next hole is dug, come upon the scene with elation that Buddy again wants to play the game. Fill the hole with water and find Buddy (who will be hiding if he saw you pour water into the hole.)

Repeat the dunking routine each time a fresh hole is dug. On the fourth day (remember that it takes an average dog four days to learn an average thing) call Buddy to your side, get on your hands and knees and YOU dig a hole!

Before you have a chance to fill your hole with water, Buddy will be gone in a flash, totally unimpressed with the game of hole digging you like so well. He will now go out of his way to make sure no further holes appear in the yard, and for good.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4

Free To A Good Home: Training The New Dog Owner – Part 2

Gemma | July 30th, 2006
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What makes a dog learn? Why does he do the things he does? Attempting to break the family dog of bad habits can be frustrating without the knowledge that it takes the average dog four days to learn the average thing.

Being unaware of this fact causes many dog owners to feel they’ve got the dumb mutt, when actually, they haven’t given Buddy a few hours, let alone four days, of proper schooling. Trying to teach Buddy without the knowledge that dogs learn by associating their actions with a pleasant or unpleasant result, can be equally frustrating.

With this knowledge firmly entrenched in our minds, let’s take Buddy, and transform him into a welcome addition to any family.

The most common complaint among most new dog owners is housebreaking. The old idea of rubbing the dog’s nose in it and throwing him out the door just doesn’t seem to meet with the desired success. Naturally not!

Dogs learn by associating their actions with pleasing or displeasing results. If a dog’s action of having an accident on the living room carpet results in the displeasing experiences of having his nose rubbed in it and then flung out the door, Buddy will learn in short order that it’s much more pleasing to have his accidents in locations where he can’t be seen having them – the bedroom, the kitchen, the closet, and any other out-of-the-way place that you don’t happen to be occupying at the time.

After all, every dog knows that he can’t be punished unless he’s caught in the act. The key here is that not only must the dog be chastised and shamed for eliminating indoors, but he must be rewarded with enthusiastic and genuine praise when he accomplishes the act outdoors. This means that you’ll have to accompany him outdoors as often as you can during the necessary four days that it will take to get the point across.

The second most common complaint is destructive chewing. Most dog owners fail to realize that Buddy must be considered a puppy until he reaches maturity at 18 months. This fact may be hard to accept if Buddy happens to be a Saint Bernard. It’s hard to label a 200 pound dog a puppy … but if he’s under 18 months, he is just that – a puppy!

Puppies need to chew. They require it just as a baby needs a teething ring. Unless the dog owner provides the chew toys, Buddy will provide his own. The first step in preventing destructive chewing is to provide adequate chews for the dog. Rawhide is fine, and if Buddy has trouble getting it started, run some hot water over it and soften it just a bit. Solid rubber play toys also work wonders.

An Easy Lesson That Works

If adequate chews have been provided, but Buddy still insists upon chewing your son’s favorite baseball glove, go ahead and give Buddy the glove the whole glove! All at once!

That’s right, stuff it as securely into his mouth as you can, then tie it there so Buddy can’t eject it. Carrying around a mouth full of glove that he can neither swallow nor eject, can turn such destructive chewing into a mighty unpleasing result.

Thirty to forty minutes of having to wear the object in the mouth does more to accomplish your task than any amount of beating. Among other things, such action as beating would cause Buddy to sneak, and do all of his destructive chewing in places where you’re not apt to catch him. The glove in the mouth method will actually give your dog an utter contempt for trying to chew other items.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4

Free To A Good Home: Training The New Dog Owner – Part 1

Gemma | July 26th, 2006
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The average American family consists of daddy, mommy, and 2.1 children. The .1 must, of course, represent Buddy, the family dog.

Buddy may have appeared, complete with a red ribbon, as a furry little bundle of Christmas cheer, nestled underneath a brightly decorated tree. But by the time the ornaments and branches have been ingested by Buddy, daddy begins to have second thoughts about Santa’s sense of humor.

Humble Beginnings

During his first two weeks in the new household, Buddy usually accomplishes one thing: changing the family’s routine! The accidents on the carpet, teething on the sofa cushions, and of course Buddy’s insomnia at 2:00 A.M., are all contributing factors to his ultimate banishment to the back yard.

To stave off the sheer loneliness of his exile, Buddy will invent toys and games out of whatever is available. One such game that is as popular with dogs as hide-and-seek with children, is called transplant the shrubbery.

In this game, Buddy merely selects the plant which he considers to be most out of place. Then, with meticulous care, the plant is exhumed.

Before the plant is relocated to a different part of the yard, there is a certain ritual that Buddy must put the plant through. What the ritual actually accomplishes, only Buddy knows, but it consists (among other things) of throwing the plant into the air, gaining more altitude each time.

When the ritual is concluded, it’s time for the transplant job. Studies show, however, that Buddy is usually so winded and worn out from the tossing job, that the plant lies dormant on the surface of the yard, and the transplanting is actually done by daddy, not Buddy!

The game starts over the next day, and the next, until all the plants have been exhumed, and the dog declares himself the winner. Staring about the yard, Buddy will see nothing else of interest at this point. However… in the next yard… as Buddy jumps the fence into your neighbor’s plants…

After the quarrel with daddy and the neighbors subsides, Buddy’s realm is usually reduced to the circumference provided by a long rope tied to a tree. This is a temporary measure, of course, and Buddy will do all in his power to ensure this. This means barking at everything and everyone.

While daddy mumbles something at Buddy, and returns to the house, the dog returns to his vocal attempts to chase the moon away. Out comes daddy. A few more words are aimed at Buddy, and viola! Buddy has discovered a new game. By barking, he cannot only chase things away, but can summon someone to momentarily keep him company!

Such are the antics of the family dog, whose future usually lies in a classified advertisement declaring… Free To A Good Home.

Don’t Make That Choice

For an investment of a few dollars, coupled with a little imagination, there need be no one-way ride to the pound for Buddy, or no pawning off the lemon to some other unsuspecting family.

A few bucks will buy you a water gun, a quick and easy dog training magazine to train you to deal with your dog’s antics, and an open mind to an understanding of a dog’s point of view.

In just a few days, you can turn frustration and the prospect of sending Buddy to the pound into a well-trained, respectable family pet.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4

A Simple Reason Why Your Dog Is Chewing Everything In Sight

Gemma | March 21st, 2006
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Before you can train your dog to stop his destructive chewing habits, you must first identify the type of chewing that your pet is demonstrating. There are different reasons why puppies and dogs engage in this habit, as well as a variety of ways to fix the problem. Therefore, identifying the type of destructive chewing is an important step in eliminating the issue.

There are different motivational factors for chronic and destructive chewing. The most common types are:

1. Puppy chewers
2. Spiteful chewers
3. Jealousy chewers
4. Boredom chewers

Puppies chew mainly for two reasons: to explore their new world and to soothe their aching gums during the teething stage. Dogs between the ages of six to eighteen months have a different motivation to chew: boredom (although this motivator can also apply to puppies as well).

Most dogs who are going through their adolescent stage have high amounts of energy in their systems. This energy, when not utilized or given the proper channel, can result in problem behaviors like destructive chewing. Chewing out of boredom between puppyhood and adulthood usually occur because the newness and excitement of the pets presence in the home wears off. The family does not pay as much attention to them as they used to when he was still a puppy.

A different motivating factor thats responsible for problem-chewing is jealousy. This usually occurs in adult dogs. It could be caused by having a new pet in the household, or because the family has turned their attention to something else, thereby, causing the dog to feel alienated.

For example, if you keep catching your dog chewing on your books, its very likely that he thinks that the books cause you to spend less time with him. The same reason can be stated for dogs who like chewing on their owners shoes. Our beloved pets felt that the shoes were responsible for alienating the owners attention. Each time you leave the house, the dog sees those shoes going with you and he will take his jealousy and frustration out on those shoes at any chance possible.

In this case, the best way to eliminate destructive chewing is as simple as spending more time with your dog. Spend ten or fifteen minutes with your pet before you start reading. Take him for a nice stroll, or maybe brush his coat before leaving the house. Most of the time, all it takes is giving your dog personal attention to get rid of these bad behaviors.