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Tuesday Training Byte: Where to start with a problem dog?

Sometimes I receive calls and it becomes obvious that the owner is experiencing multiple issues and has become frustrated with the dog. This can be overwhelming. So where does one start? A good answer to that question is at the beginning. Make two lists: one with a few goals you have for your dog and the other the problems you would like to see fixed. Now prioritize your lists. Say the first thing you would list as the main problem is mouthing and biting. Before we address the problem behavior we need to ask ourselves several questions.

1. Does my pup get enough exercise?

2. Do I have a somewhat predictable schedule/routine for the dog?

3. Is my pup receiving sufficient mental and physical stimulation?

4. Have I set clear boundaries and behavioral expectations?

5. Do I give my dog individual attention?

6. Is there consistency among household members?

Often times when we take care of the above basic needs of the dog, behaviors improve. However, if the issues still are happening, what seems to trigger this unwanted behavior? What was the pup doing or what was happening right before this? A mother dog will correct the pups if their play is too rough usually by growling and/or nipping the pup around the neck. If we communicate more as would happen in nature, the pup will be quick to understand the message. In the case of nipping, mouthing and biting, be sure to not play rough and tease the dog by pretending to steal its favorite toy or engaging in tug. Do not allow kids the run around the dog acting like prey. As soon as teeth meet flesh, game should be over! Immediately stop your interaction with the dog and put him back in his kennel. Once this problem has subsided, go to the next one on your list. Praise your dog for calm and gentle behaviors that you want repeated. Happy training!

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