Every year in January, the Association for Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) sponsors an awareness campaign called National Train Your Dog Month. The organization hopes to bring attention to the importance of early socialization and training for dogs and puppies. When your dog learns what you expect of him early in life, it makes it much easier to adapt to living with a human family. As any proud dog owner can tell you, the rewards of a well-trained dog are worth any time and money that you invest.
The reason that the APDT selected January for this awareness campaign is that it’s common for people to get a new dog or puppy after the new year. By highlighting the importance of proper training, the APDT hopes to prevent thousands of pet owners from relinquishing their dog to a local shelter because they couldn’t handle common canine behavior. As the organization points out, making the investment in dog training can resolve most of these issues.
How to Change Problem Behavior in Your Dog
According to the American Humane Society, the top three behavioral reasons that people give up their dog include excessive barking, destructive chewing, and problems with housetraining. Below, we examine each of these behaviors individually.
Excessive barking: Barking is one of the few ways that your dog has to communicate. When she’s barking too loud or too often, there’s always an underlying reason. Is she bored, lonely, or possibly in pain? If so, determine what you can do to resolve those issues and the excessive barking should stop. Sometimes the solution to this problem is so simple you don’t even need to investigate. For example, simply close your shades to block your dog’s view if she seems to bark at everyone who walks down the street.
Destructive chewing: Just like human babies, puppies go through a period of teething from approximately four to six months and they chew to relieve discomfort. Chewing is also an in-born instinct of all dogs, but that isn’t much comfort when you see that your dog has chewed the furniture or destroyed your favorite pair of shoes.
One solution to this is to buy a large selection of chew toys such as rubber bones and food puzzles and rotate them often. Every time you see your dog attempt to chew something inappropriate, redirect him towards his own toys. You might also consider putting a baby gate between rooms without a door to minimize your dog’s temptations.
Problems with housetraining: If you have ever potty-trained a toddler, you know that it requires a lot of time, patience, and practice. Fortunately, the process goes faster with dogs and most quickly learn that they must eliminate outside. In the meantime, keep plenty of puppy training pads handy and reward your dog with a treat or extra attention when she does her business in the appropriate place.
Your dog may have an underlying physical or emotional issue if she continues to eliminate indoors. We encourage you to schedule an appointment with Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic to investigate this.
Of course, your dog may do fine in these areas and have other issues with behavior. If you’re struggling to the point of considering surrender, please discuss your concerns with one of our veterinarians at your dog’s next preventive care exam.
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