Absolutely re-fu-sing to keep going on that walk they were soexcited about when you put on your tennis shoes. Barking at every single person—or car, or floating leaf—that goes by. While we (obviously) really, really love dogs, sometimes being a pet parent can be a struggle. So we’re breaking down the biggest training pet peeves—and how to overcome them. (Pro tip: it involves a lot of snacks.)
Pulling On the Leash
Sometimes, *everything* is so darn exciting, our dogs can barely contain themselves and tugging is the only possible answer. Squirrels are especially exciting, but really, it doesn’t take all that much for a seemingly easy walk to turn into a nightmare. Whatever the case, it’s frustrating.
The solution? First, make sure you’ve got the right leash. Then, head to the backyard (or wherever you can find a distraction-free zone) for a little 1:1.
Decide if you want to train your dog to walk to your right or to your left, and keep a treat in that hand to reward your furry friend whenever he stays by your side. If he strays? No treat.
It’s all about positive reinforcement here. The better your dog follows the rules of walking, the more freedom you can give him to sniff about, use the restroom, etc. If he returns to your side when called or gently tugged, give another treat, and so forth.
Lunging at Other Dogs
Even the sweetest of dogs run into occasional bouts of not being all that sure about that dog across the street you’re slowly approaching on this walk—something about a sidewalk run-in makes things go from zero to OMG THREAT, which includes anything from snarling (hairs raised and all) to lunging.
The reason for the sudden aggression? Fear. According to the ASPCA, dogs sometimes respond to other dogs in this way while leashed because, well, it goes against nature. In an off-leash park, dogs are able to approach each other in a less abrasive way, often circling each other and sniffing each other out. On the sidewalk, dogs don’t have the freedom to evaluate each other in the same manner—and when their owners pull back, it only heightens those feelings of stress and tension.
The solution? Find some treats, then recruit a buddy with a dog to “run into” on a walk and reward your dog with a treat and lots of praise as soon as he’d normally start barking or lunging. Repeat this, getting closer each time, only offering a treat and praise when your dog behaves well. The goal is for your dog to associate dogs with good things.
Barking at Strangers…or at Basically Anything that Moves and/or Makes Noise
…like the vacuum. No matter how many times your dog has seen the ever-so-scary postman (like, six times a week for forever), he feels like he has to bark like he’s never barked before. Because, you know, he’s responsible for your life. Which is actually what your dog is thinking, as silly as it may seem. Barking at strangers is a result of fear, and a sense of territory.
The solution? Like lunging at other dogs, a way to encourage quiet behavior is through treats and positive reinforcement. Recruit another friend or acquaintance with whom your dog is not familiar to approach your home. When your dog starts to bark, offer him a treat—but only give it up when you pair it with the word “quiet” and he starts barking. Practice this repeatedly, but only when the “stranger” is in sight. Again, the goal is for your dog to associate (most) humans with good things.
Doin’ Business in the House
There are few things more infuriating than when your super-cute dog decides to relieve himself on the carpet. Or in your bed. (Yep, that’s happened.) Assuming your dog checks out at the vet, there are a handful of key steps that should keep accidents at bay.
First, be patient. Second, be kind. Your dog probably isn’t trying to ruin your life, really—he just had to go, and for some reason couldn’t make it happen in the right place. Instilling fear is not the answer! Instead, reward your dog with a treat and lots of praise when he relieves himself outside.
Next, get your dog on an eating schedule—this should lead to a regular potty schedule. Accompany your dog (but still give him space), and praise him when he goes to the bathroom outside. Finally, scrub that accident clean. And instead of tossing the, uh, remnants in the toilet, bring them outside instead. After dogs mark one area with their scent, they typically return to it—make sure that marked area is outside.
It may seem like no matter how many toys you give your dog, he’s only interested in chewing on your shoes. Or on something that’s buried deep, deep in the garbage can. Or on basically anything that’s not supposed to be chewed on.
Make sure your dog has a clean bill of health to rule out any medical reasons, then hide anything that may result in serious harm if it’s snacked on, like cords and toxic plants. It’s also probably a good idea to hide those really beautiful, expensive shoes you just got—just in case.
Next, encourage your dog to play with his toys. Does he have a favorite? Praise him for gnawing on it! Catch him back to his old ways, tearing up a blanket? Discourage the behavior, and try a taste deterrent if the snacking won’t stop. The idea is to associate his favorite toys with praise and treats, and everything else as being, well, icky.
Have a dog training pet peeve or an alternative solution to one of our pet peeves above? Sound off in the comments below!
Top image via Imgur