Here are four simple ways you can address your dog’s annoying behaviors.
No matter how much we adore our pups, we sometimes get a bit frustrated by their behaviors. But it’s usually simply because we don’t understand it. After all, what’s considered normal in the animal kingdom doesn’t always make sense to us.
Here’s what you can do to understand your dog’s frustrating behaviors and address them in healthy ways.
1. Pulling on the leash
I’ve seen it a hundred times: dogs that are essentially walking their human. It’s pretty common to see dogs (especially big ones) pulling hard on the leash, which ends up making their leash uncomfortably tight around their neck and puts you in the position of running to keep up or pulling hard to keep them from running off without you.
Your furry friend, however, isn’t doing this to try to get away from you. If he’s been inside all day, he probably has an excess of energy and is just ridiculously excited to be out and about. One good way to bring down their energy level is to get some of it out before the walk – play fetch for a while in the yard or your home first.
It also helps if you get your dog to calm down a bit before you head out. If they get a little rowdy when you pull out the leash or say the word, “walk”, you can try standing calmly and quietly at the door to encourage them to calm down and only take the next step when they have all 4 paws on the floor and are quiet. You may have to do this several times before each walk but it will eventually teach your dog that the walk only happens when they’ve chilled out.
2. Begging for food
At first it was adorable and hard to resist, but now you’d do anything to divert his puppy-dog eyes every time you put a bite of food in your mouth.
It’s all about the fact that we seem to enjoy our own food, and dogs trust our judgment. They think they’re missing out on something great, and want to be in on it too. If you were to start eating his food right out of the bag, he’d suddenly become a lot more interested.
There’s a couple of different ways to curb his enthusiasm. For starters, control his access to places where food is prepared and eaten. You can buy a baby gate to keep him out or train him not to go beyond a certain point while food is in the room.
If you really want to give your dog certain leftover table scraps, put them in his bowl after supper. He’ll know the only source of food comes from his own plate, not yours.
3. Dragging himself on the carpet
Gross, he’s doing it again. And in front of company! Why does he always scoot his butt on the ground?
The reason is more physical than behavioral. Your dog is most likely irritated or itchy down there, and since he can’t use his hind legs to scratch himself that far, he’s using other methods. You may need to get a little up close and personal to find out what the problem is. Does your dog have a small wound or discharge? He might have an infection, and you should take a trip to the holistic vet for a more in-depth check and treatment.
If he’s had a lot of loose stool or diarrhea lately, he’s probably trying to clean himself up. After he relieves himself, check to see if he’s “messy.” When you bring him in the house, immediately wipe his rear end with a warm compress.
4. Barking or whining at nothing
Like a colicky baby, a constantly noisy dog can be trying on even the most patient owner, and definitely the neighbors.
If your dog tends to bark or whine in one particular area, he may sense something you don’t. Dogs have much more keen hearing, sight, and smell than humans do. He’s trying to protect his territory, or he might be fearful of what he’s seeing. You may want to restrict his access to that area.
But if there’s no rhyme or reason to your noisy pooch, he may just be bored. Especially if he’s left home for long periods of time, he’s vying for attention, no matter how negative.
Teach him that the best way to get your attention is to remain quiet. Don’t reinforce his behavior; making eye contact, touching your dog, or even reprimanding him for barking or whining still gives the attention your dog is seeking.
It’s a rewarding feeling when you know why your dog does what he does, and he has clear expectations from you. A little patience and a lot of respect for their natural instincts can go a long way when teaching your dog better behaviors.
Narayan Khalsa is a co-founder of Effective Pet Wellness, a company that specializes in herbal remedies for dogs, cats and horses. He is a firm and passionate believer in the fact that our animals’ behavioral and physical issues should be addressed in holistic ways that are respectful to their natural equilibrium. Click here to find out more.