How to Curb 5 Annoying Dog Behaviors

Your dog is the apple of your eye, except when he's eating rotten apple cores out of the trash can. Of course, we love our pets unconditionally — sometimes in spite of inconvenient or annoying dog behaviors. Here, we take a look at five common issues that many dog owners face and explore the best ways to resolve the problems. Got a dog who jumps when greeting or nips during play? Read on!

Remember, bad behaviors that you may think are caused by a lack of training could actually be the result of an underlying medical problem. That's why it's so important to talk with your veterinarian about any behavioral changes you notice in your dog.

Tips for Fixing Problem Behaviors

Curb Bad Dog Habits Pulling on Leash


Pulling on Leash

Nothing turns an enjoyable jaunt in the park into a stressful nightmare quite like our first problem behavior: pulling on leash. You may not think you're rewarding this behavior, but being allowed to drag you down the sidewalk may be enough of a reward for your dog. Instead, trainer Mikkel Becker recommends coming to a complete stop when your dog pulls on his leash. That way, he learns that he gets to move forward only when he stops pulling and the leash becomes loose again. Teaching your canine to heel is another great option.

Curb Bad Dog Habits Eating Out of Trashcan


Eating From the Trash Can

Even though your dog is likely served plenty of food at predictable intervals throughout the day, that may not eliminate his ancestral desire to scavenge for snacks. And where's the best place to find them? The trash can, of course! Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Wailani Sung has plenty of tips for keeping a lid on your dog's treasure-hunting habit, but the simplest one is just that: Keep a lid on it! Get a sturdy trash can with a lid that stays closed, even if the bin is knocked over. Better yet, hide the bin away in a cupboard or pantry. Teaching the "leave it" command also works to reward your canine for turning away from the trash can — and while you're at it, training the "drop it" cue can be lifesaving if your dog does somehow get into the garbage.

Curb Bad Dog Habits Nipping and Mouthing


Nipping and Mouthing

This is one of those behaviors that seems so adorable when tiny puppies do it, and then so not adorable when they don't grow out of it. But if you encourage the behavior when your dog is young, it's not fair to expect him to grow out of it himself. That's why you should discourage nipping and mouthing during play from the very beginning, even if it seems harmless and nonaggressive. If your dog nips you, let out a high-pitched yelp, let your hands go limp and stop the play session for 10 to 20 seconds. This teaches your dog that when he does this behavior, the fun stops.

Curb Bad Dog Habits Humping



Is there anything more embarrassing than this unseemly dog behavior? Lots of people mistakenly believe that humping is a display of dominance, but that's not necessarily true. There are lots of reasons a dog may hump a human or other animal — he may be stressed, seeking attention or suffering from a medical problem like a urinary tract infection. That's why it's so important to not yell at or punish your dog for the behavior (which will only stress him further), but to talk about it with your veterinarian. If your vet gives your pet a clean bill of health, and it does turn out to be a training issue, simply remove yourself from the area to stop the humping, or interrupt your dog and redirect his attention by asking him to do a command he knows.

Curb Bad Dog Habits Jumping When Greeting


Jumping When Greeting

It's so hard to resist showering your dog with a riled-up, excitable greeting when you come home to her after a long day. But if you want your pup to stop jumping up when greeting, a little self-control on your part is essential. You may not mind your dog hopping up to greet you, but it could become a problem if he says hello to, say, children or elderly family in the same manner. For that reason, the best thing you can do is to keep expectations consistent: Upon arriving at home, give your dog attention only when he's calm and has all four paws on the ground (or is sitting). If he jumps up and you continue to greet him, that reinforces the behavior. Becker says that a good strategy is to freeze like a statue when your dog starts to jump and resume petting and praise only once he stops jumping.

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