Which of these dog behaviors is most aggravating to you?
- Jumping and biting
You may even have more aggravating dog behaviors you want to stop your dog from doing. And of course, the sooner the better, right? One client recently said, “Suddenly he switches from angel to devil dog. One minute he’s nice and the next he’s biting me or the kids relentlessly.”
Your dog will start changing for the better almost over-night. It does take a “strong resolve” on your part to do the work every day. In other words don’t get frustrated in the process.
At least don’t let your dog know you are frustrated. He will pick up on your frustration.
Before You Fix Your Irritating Dog Behavior
I do have a plan I want to share with you. But, there’s a condition.
You have to be honest with yourself so that you can better identify the root cause of his frustration.
You’re not the only one frustrated! Your dog’s aggravating dog behavior is his way of working out his stress and anxiety because he’s frustrated too. Jumping and biting is his way of working out his frustration, at least until you teach him something different.
Symptoms vs. Root Causes of Your Dog’s Behavior
The symptoms are what you are experiencing. That’s the jumping, biting, chewing etc.
The cause can be: he’s trying to tell you something! Maybe he’s saying he needs exercises or something challenging to do with his idle time. That could be the root cause.
Example: Your dog always barks out the front window. You put him in his crate to “fix it”. You are only addressing the symptom and not addressing the root cause of the barking.
Identifying the Cause of Your Dog’s Behavior Problem
Be honest and ask yourself this question: “Am I meeting all my dog’s needs?” Let’s take a look at how I’ve categorized your dog’s needs. See if you are doing these things:
- Structure in your home: Sit for everything
- Good food – get him off the junk food
- Mental and physical exercise
- Regular obedience training (my 6 minute a day plan)
Let’s Fix That Obnoxious Dog Behavior Now
Structure in the home begins “and never ends” with a sit for everything: His food, access to you, and your furniture Your dog gets rewarded with a brief pet/praise for a job well done. This is the simple part I talked about. It only takes a second but has profound effects on your dog in the long run if you do it every day.
Good food is paramount to good dog behavior. Toss the sugar-producing “junk food”. Feed him a grain-free, good protein diet. This includes:
- no by-products,
- no un-named animal fat,
- no sugar producing carbohydrates or artificial preservatives.
You could see amazing changes in a week or so once the bad stuff gets out of his system. Mental and physical exercise is critical. Jean Donaldson (notable animal behaviorist and published dog trainer) said, “It is highly unlikely if the average dog owner will ever over-challenge their dog.” Insufficient mental and physical stimulation can cause or exacerbate behavior problems.
These can include:
- Destructive chewing,
- Acryl lick dermatitis,
- Attention-seeking behavior like jumping/biting, barking, compulsive disorders
- Certain forms of aggression.
Can you match some of these dog behavior issues with your dog?
At least for the time being, here is my recommendation for dogs with behavioral issues: They should receive at least half to all their entire daily ration of food during training or from enrichment devices. All enrichment items should be rotated so the dog does not see the same items repeatedly every day.
If your dog is a “destroyer of toys” then you should supervise these activities:
- Put your dog’s food or treats in a Buster Cube or Bob-A-Lot (amazon.com) so that your dog has to work for his food.
- Place dog food or treats inside a cardboard box, old towel/rag, or plastic jugs and allow your dog to tear the item apart to get to the food inside.
- Stuff Kong toys full of his dog food) and freeze them overnight before giving them to your dog.
- Divide portions of your dog’s meal into small Tupperware containers and hide them around the house for your dog to find. Feed the rest to him at his regular meal time.
Are you getting the idea? By mentally challenging your dog to work harder for his food (instead of him eating it in 60 seconds from the bowl), he is now mentally tired. Dump the dog Bowl! If you work full time, this plan works best in the evenings and on weekends when you can supervise your dog’s mealtime activities.
Addressing the Cause of Irritating Dog Behavior Can Be Simple
There is no substitute for physical exercise and the benefits it provides for both you and your dog. Is your dog getting enough physical exercise to meet his needs? Walking is a huge stress-buffer and it promotes calm behavior back home. Regular obedience training has almost too many benefits to list. Here are just a few:
- Gives your dog a sense of working for you.
- Teaches your dog behaviors to which you can redirect unwanted jumping and biting.
- Training your dog every day consistently trains him to listen to you.
- Training every day gives you a structured and constructive way to interact with your dog while creating mental and physical fatigue.
Parting Thoughts on Your Aggravating Dog Behavior Problem
I’ll leave you with this to think about as you work with your dog in the next few weeks. Buck Brannaman, a famous horse trainer said: “Instead of spending time focusing on the end result, discover the benefit of being in the process. The – learning is in the doing – not necessarily in the outcome.” You too may discover that learning is in the doing. By committing to the dog training process, you’ll learn new ways to better manage your dog.
Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog
Jim Burwell is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 30 years, serving over 11,000 clients. Jim works with you and your entire family in helping your dog be the best dog ever.