How can I stop my dog from barking excessively?
Dogs bark for many reasons. Essentially it is a form of communication. Usually our response is to rush in, get very excited and shout at them.
- Firstly, stop shouting at your dog. In the dog’s mind, by us shouting, we are joining in which makes his barking behaviour acceptable and he is unlikely to stop.
- If the barking is because he wants our attention we can respond by removing what he wants. For example – If he is in his crate and wants to get out then when he barks we would walk away from him. Once he was quiet we would then return. You may have to do this a number of times before he realises that his action of barking has consequences and that the only way he is going to get what he wants is to stop barking.
- Teach him a behaviour that you want instead of barking. It can be a “sit”, “down” or to fetch a toy. Reward him with a tasty treat when he performs it and then if he looks like he is going to start barking ask for that behaviour. Dogs can only do one thing at a time.
This is just a brief overview of some of the things that may help. If you would like further help or advice then contact me. I would be happy to work with you to overcome this problem
How can I stop my dog from chewing up my stuff when I am out?
You need to look at why he is chewing things up. Is he bored, anxious, fearful, or frustrated? Or is he suffering with separation anxiety? Once you have isolated the cause it is easier to solve the problem. Take practical steps. Remove chewable items. Confine the dog to one particular room or crate him if you are going out. Often it is a matter of ensuring your dog has sufficient exercise, providing him with mental stimulation or addressing his separation anxiety (see below).
If he has chewed things up, it does not help to yell at him on your return. His guilty look is because he knows you are angry and he is trying to placate you. Not because of what he has done. In fact, he has no idea what you are upset about. Only if you catch him in the act will he make the connection.
Bear in mind that dogs don’t do things out of vengeance or spite. Rather he is telling you that he has a problem. If you would like help to resolve this issue then give me a call.
How can I stop my dog from digging holes?
You may not be able to stop this behaviour if you have one of the Terrier breeds. They were bred to dig and so it is part of their genetic make-up. Don’t despair, you can deal with the digging problem by re-direction and control.
Dogs that are diggers should be persuaded to use their own designated part of the garden. You can do this by providing a sandpit or an allocated part of the garden especially for this activity. Burying toys and treats within the sandpit/designated garden area helps the dog make the association that this is his area to dig.
If he continues to dig in areas which are unacceptable to you then he can be re-directed by placing chicken wire and rocks over unwanted holes. A firm “No” when caught in the act can also help. In addition, exercise, companionship, catering for the traits of the breed and mental stimulation can all help to minimalize the problem. If you would like more advice or help on this subject then give me a call.
How can I stop my dog from howling and crying every time I leave the house?
Separation anxiety is very common and can be caused by a number of things:
Dogs are very sociable animals and feel safe and protected when all of their human family is together. To have all the members of the family leave can make the dog feel vulnerable and anxious.
It is also a very common problem in rescue dogs who may suffer with this condition due to abandonment, lack of confidence or past mistreatment.
Separation anxiety is not a quick fix problem. It takes time and patience. These are some of the things that need to be taken into account:
- The owner may need to re-evaluate their relationship with the dog and put it on a more independent footing.
- The level of fuss and attention delivered by the owner needs to be controlled so that the dog does not expect its every demand is going to be met.
In order to help the dog deal with separation from the owner/family the dog needs to become accustomed to being left initially for short periods of time. That time should then be extended slowly.
Other things that help are a warm bed or crate which provide the dog with a safe environment that they can retreat into when on their own. Leaving the radio on, toys and treats can also make this a more welcoming environment. Establishing a regular routine so that the dog knows what to expect and when can also help.
If this is a problem that you are grappling with, then give me a call, I would love to help.
How can I stop my dog from being reactive to other dogs when he is on the lead?
Dogs aren’t going to necessarily like all other dogs. However, what we want to teach them is to at least tolerate other dogs. There are number of steps to achieving this:
- Teach you dog to walk calmly on-leash by your side. You need to do this at home and practice until it is automatic. Once your dog has mastered this, you can venture out on the walk.
- The next steps are all about teaching your dog to focus on you. Do this by stopping every 25 yards and then take 3 steps backwards. Your dog will automatically turn and follow you. Vary your pace when walking to ensure your dog pays attention.
- Make him sit, hold a high value treat up high near your eyes and say “look” or “eyes on me” or something else that you feel comfortable with. This gets your dog use to stopping, sitting and then focusing on you. Keep repeating this for about 5 minutes at a time.
- Next, you need to access how reactive your dog is. If he is very reactive to other dogs then you will have to keep a lot of distance between you and other dogs initially. Every time you see another dog at a distance, get him to stop, sit and focus on you. Don’t allow him to eyeball the other dog. Walk him away if necessary. Gradually over time decrease the distance between yourself and other dogs. Don’t rush it. Try to gauge where his trigger point is.
- For this to work, you need to lavishly praise your dog each time that he sits and focuses on you and even more praise if he ignores the other dog. Make yourself interesting to your dog. As he learns to focus on you, bring along his favourite toy and play a little so that the focus on you becomes cemented. Eventually he will learn that each time another dog appears on the scene, good things will happen.
The above suggestion is all about timing and being able to judge what our dog’s triggers are. If you need help with implementing this suggestion then give me a ring.
These are just a few of the many problems faced by owners. Each dog is a unique individual so there is never a “one fit” solution to any of these problems. The above are just some of the suggestions which I have found to be effective in addressing problem behaviour. For tailor made advice on how to overcome your dog’s particular behaviour problem give me a call to discuss.