DOG BEHAVIORS & CORRECTIONS

One day, probably soon, your dog will do something wrong.   He might steal your T-Bone steak from the table. He might leave a little present in your closet.  He might chew a hole through your screen door.  You are beside yourself!  What do you do?

First, let me state emphatically that the best solution to many dog problems is prevention.  Let me repeat myself – don’t give your dog even the slightest chance to make a mistake!  In every instance possible, set them up for success!

Here’s how it works…Take him outside to do his business many more times than you think he could possibly need to go until he develops control.  Never leave a steak unattended within reach of an unsupervised dog!  Don’t leave your closet ajar and the little rascal free to snoop into it!  Do you see what I mean?  If he never gets the idea, he won’t do the deed!

VERBAL CORRECTIONS
No matter how careful you are, your dog (and you) will make mistakes.  Try to catch him while he’s still just thinking about it, before he actually does whatever it is he’s about to do.  From the start, discourage his potential trespasses as though you were a mother dog.  Issue a low growl, “Uh uh”… with the warning message, “Don’t you dare”, or “Don’t’ you even think about it”.   He’ll probably reconsider.

Next best is to catch him in the act.  If young puppies make a housebreaking mistake during the first week in a new home, OR, if you’re trying to re-train the pup where to go, don’t scold.  Just take the offender to the new desired area and praise him when he does his business in the right place.    Surprise the pup so he’s taken aback and links the reprimand to his action. Contrary to popular OLD beliefs, rubbing their noses in the urine won’t do a bit of good…and is actually a pretty mean thing to do.  It can also work to make them afraid to go potty anywhere!

Scolding after the act is virtually useless, but we sometimes yield to the temptation and do it anyway because it makes US feel better.  The dog rarely makes the connection between the punishment now and the great fun then.    You may think they make the connection because they are showing that they know they are in trouble…but think about it…your voice is telling him he’s in trouble, but since his offense happened a little while ago and you just found it, he really has no clue why he’s in trouble.

ENVIRONMENTAL CORRECTION/  The Set Up
Environmental corrections can bring miraculous results!  To the dog, it seems as though someone is watching him at all times, so he better behave!  What a good attitude to cultivate, as long as the dog doesn’t become skittish as a result.  Environmental set-ups work particularly well against mischief.  Many dogs are smart enough to figure out that they can get away with things when you’re not home.  But luckily dogs are predictable – they do what feels good and stop doing what doesn’t feel good.  So we can set up a situation where the environment makes the dog feel lousy.

Here are some examples:
One dog got his kicks rummaging through the bathroom garbage and shredding everything in it, then strewing those shreds all over the place.  It was especially fun when the owner wasn’t home!  The owner cured him of his nasty habit by spritzing a little bitter apple in the first few layers of miscellaneous Kleenex and papers in that garbage can and then leaving for work as usual.  It took the dog exactly one experience with the prepared garbage to cure him for good.

Set-ups are a powerful medicine and can be very frightening, especially to submissive dogs.  I recommend that if you are having a particular problem, you discuss this with me and I will suggest the right type of set-up to use to be sure no real harm comes to the dog.

PHYSICAL CORRECTION
Don’t ever hit your dog – not even with a rolled up newspaper.  And it does absolutely NO good whatsoever to push his face in a puddle of urine or poop. 

Collar Corrections:
Collar corrections are never recommended!  Please consult with a professional before using a collar correction.

Other Forms Of Physical Corrections
Physical corrections are never recommended!  If you feel your dog is not getting “the message” through non-physical correction attempts, please consult with a professional! 

You must always end the negative behavior and redirect to a positive behavior!  This is the only manner in which your dog will learn what you want/expect from him!

Summary
Many dogs do need corrections at some point in their little lives.  Especially during adolescence when they tend to challenge authority.   However, inappropriate use of physical correction can trigger dog aggression or create a fearful animal.  Use verbal correction whenever possible.

Most importantly, a negative should ALWAYS be followed by a positive!  Correct the negative behavior, but then make sure to teach your dog the positive behavior……he needs your guidance!