Dog Behavior Problem Solving  

CHEWING- Be sure your dog has a proper diet. Ask your trainer which formula is right for your dog or puppy. Provide nylabones, gumabones, and rhino toys. An old t-shirt or sock wetted down and tied in a knot and frozen in the freezer helps young teething tikes. Use bitter apple spray or paste to discourage the dog from chewing inappropriate items.

DIGGING- Usually dogs dig because they are ignored and bored, negative attention is better then no attention. Teach the dog where it's appropriate to dig (sand box, etc.) and where not to dig. Place small lava rocks in garden areas and provide toys as noted above. Use nail clippers to cut the dog's nails.

HOUSEBREAKING-ABTA recommends DOSKOCIL carriers. If you want to potty train your dog to a specific spot in your yard, use the "puppy go potty" house training system. When you see them go pee. Tell him "Go PEE" and show him where you want this done. Reward him when he does it correctly. If he makes a mistake, don't rub his nose in it, don't hit, spank, or yell. Just say "NO", (never use the dog's name in a corrective action). Take him to the area where you want him to do his business and then give him the "Love, hugs and kisses reward system". Soon you'll have him trained to go where you want him to go. Yes there will be a few mistakes along the way. Don't make it a big deal. It's not.

BARKING- Try to figure out why your dog is barking. Remember, dogs can hear a human heartbeat at 5 feet away, so he may be hearing some strange noises, other dogs barking, footsteps, intruders before you hear the same noises. If the dog is barking just for attention, then give him attention. Give him an alternative to barking - play toy, TV, video, radio for entertainment. Just say, "Quiet" then reward him when he is quiet.

If he refuses to listen and continues to bark, then put him on a leash, take him outside to investigate what it is he is trying to warn you about. Let him see there is no immediate threat. After you both see that everything is ok and if he still continues to bark, say, "quiet". If he refuses to be quiet, then spray him once with a squirt gun filled with water. NOTE: Don't use a squirt gun or spray bottle filled with water unless suggested by your trainer. Now don't get frustrated and use a SUPER SOAKER. Bring him close to you and reward him once he is quiet through the love, hugs and kisses program. If he still barks, then put him on a sit stay in a corner, (time out) and ignore him for a few minutes. He will soon learn that if he wants to be in the same room and get the positive loving attention from you and the rest of the family, he will have to listen to you.

Never use bark inhibitors, remote trainers, or invisible fencing collars. These are shock collars and are extremely painful and cruel. If you don't believe me, put it around your ankle, wet it down, and try it on yourself. They have killed several animals. Never use choke chains, pinch collars, or shock collars. These are cruel and inhumane. Never leave a collar or a harness on the dog while he's in the house. Preferably use a harness only. This way you have control over the whole dog not just its throat. Many dogs have died from getting their flea or id collar caught on furniture or on a fence and they choke to death. You can also use the harness as a seat belt for your dog. Slip the seat belt through the back of the harness and secure the belt. Remember that each time you leave your car unfasten your dog from the seat belt so he can move around.

JUMPING. When your dog jumps up on people he is trying to say, "Hi! love me." Train your dog to get the love he wants by sitting next to the person(s) he greets, so that he can be loved. When the dog jumps on you or someone else, gently put your knee in his chest and say, "NO." Then put the dog on a sit-stay. When the dog sits, bend down and give him lots of love. Your dog will learn that if he jumps, he will be rejected. If he sits and stays, he will receive the love he wants and needs.

AGGRESSION. Prevent your puppy or untrained dog from behaving inappropriately just like you would a small child. Rewarding correct behavior is also critical. Know what your dog enjoys and reward him with that when he is being good. Play with a pull toy, ball, Frisbee, or wrestle with them. Don't ignore your dog when he is good. Please don't reward your dog for free or he won't want to work for it. Everyone in the family needs to be consistent with the same commands, the same reward system, and the same hand signals. Don't allow your dog partner to engage in behavior that you don't want when they're full grown.

While group class alone won't solve aggression, aggressive dogs may attend group class under certain circumstances. Your trainer will allow your aggressive dog in class provided he can be managed well enough to pose NO safety threat to himself or any person or dog. Treat aggression in home first with private training and follow with group training when the dog is ready. Your trainer may recommend additional equipment and training techniques that must be used during class to insure everybody's safety as well as optimal learning for the aggressive dog and all other dogs in class.

If you let your dog sleep in the same room as you or your child (give the dog his own bed), he will be a happier and a better behaved dog. He will bond more quickly, be less aggressive, and be more protective. Don't just throw your dog outside in a garage or doghouse or dog run. That's ok for a short break (15 minutes or so). but would you leave your two legged child tethered up by a harness outside for hours on end? I hope not. Many dogs are stolen when left outside ignored and sold for medical experiments. If you love your dog, keep him close. For more information about advocating for chained dogs and educating society to evolve a higher ethical and moral standard for the treatment of dogs, go to the Dogs Deserve Better website.

Your dog is a child with fur. He lives for love, attention, hugs, kisses, and play. There is no such thing as a STUPID DOG or DUMB DOG. Often the dog partner simply doesn't understand what he's being asked to do or the human doesn't understand what the dog is trying to say.

Harry E. Oakes Jr.
International K-9 SAR Dog Instructor.
AKA "The Dog Whisperer".

Note: We no longer use language that accepts the current concept of animals as property, commodities or things. Rather than refer to ourselves or others as "owners" of animals, we now refer to ourselves and others as "guardians" or "partners" of our animal friends. We refer to animals as "he" or "she" rather than "it." Guardians and partners do not buy or sell animals; instead they rescue and adopt. We urge you to do the same.

Never smoke cigarettes around your pet. Over 250,000 four legged children (pets) die every year from second hand smoke poisoning.

Harry has written several books on search dogs and search and rescue. He's taught his "Love, hugs, and kisses" program to over 2000 dogs and their partners around the world since 1986. He's been called the, "dog whisperer". He can communicate with dogs, wolves, and many other four-legged creatures. His search dog teams have been featured on TV shows such as Rescue 9-1-1, Unsolved Mysteries, 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, 20-20, Dateline, Good Day America and Oprah. Harry also teaches K-9 Search & Rescue and Pet First Aid.

Last revised 08/01/03.

Copyright © 2005 International K-9 Search and Rescue Services. All rights reserved.