Dogs do certain things because they’re fun! However, fun dog behaviors are super annoying to people, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Before freaking out and screaming “stop” to your dog, take a deep breath. Now, take 5 minutes to an hour and think about what you’d like your dog to do instead of (fill in the blank). This is the key to changing your dog’s annoying behaviors fast!
What Dog Behavior is Driving You Crazy?
Identifying a specific issue helps solve an issue quickly. What is your dog doing that drives you nuts? It could be anything. Instead of assuming that everything your dog does drives you crazy, try to narrow down the most frustrating one. Once you know the frustrating behavior, you can address it. If you don’t, it’s like bringing your car into a mechanic shop because something is wrong, but you can’t identify the issue.
If your dog has several annoying behaviors, pinpoint one that needs to be addressed immediately and work on that one first. Once the main issue is addressed, then move on to additional annoying behaviors. Trying to address all of your dog’s frustrating issues at once is like packing 10 pounds of sugar in a 5-lb sack; it’s not going to happen.
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Once the most frustrating issue has been positively resolved, something interesting happens. All other minor behaviors seem to decrease because your dog has learned to do something else instead. Your dog is learning how to positively respond in situations, and both you and your dog are building a bond of trust and communication. Great job!
Here’s a list of common annoying dog behaviors that are fun for dogs, but annoying to pet owners:
- Running away
- Spazzing out
- Pulling away
What Should Your Dog Do Instead?
Now that you’ve narrowed down a specific annoying dog behavior, it’s time to teach your dog an incompatible behavior. An incompatible behavior is the opposite of the annoying behavior. Basically, you’re telling your dog to do this instead of that. Examples of incompatible behaviors for common annoying dog behaviors are:
- Being quiet instead of barking.
- Digging in a sandpit instead of your rose garden.
- Sitting instead of jumping on people.
- Coming when called instead of running away.
- Sitting still instead of spazzing out.
- Walking on a loose leash instead of pulling on it.
- Chewing dog toys instead of table legs.
- Not putting teeth on your skin instead of nipping.
How to Teach an Incompatible Behavior
While this may seem like sunshine and rainbow wishes, it’s actually very simple to teach incompatible behaviors. Grab a handful of super yummy treats, and reward your dog when he does an incompatible behavior instead of an annoying one. Dogs eventually have to stop barking to take a breath, so click and reward even a nano-second of silence.
Redirect dogs to chew on their chew toys instead of expensive table legs, and crate dogs when you’re not home. Reward a dog when all four feet are on the floor instead of jumping. Think about it this way: If $100 bills rained from the sky when you sat down instead of standing, you would learn that sitting is super rewarding.
Identify the annoying behavior, then reward the incompatible behavior and the annoying behavior will disappear. Never punish annoying behaviors or they’ll hang around longer—just reward incompatible behaviors every time!