Author: Darren Pillsbury
Man's best friend. It's a nickname that's been around for ages, but sometimes your dog doesn't feel like your best bud - especially when he's been going to the bathroom on the rug, barking at all hours of the night, and digging up the backyard so much that it looks like a WWI battlefield. But don't despair - here are a few useful tips for dealing with 'man's best friend' when he's misbehaving.
1) Don't use violence. As tempting as it may be in the moment, don't strike your dog in anger. It can make him more aggressive, or cause him to do bad things out of his anxiety about being hit. Not to mention it's mean! A light smack might be appropriate for a dog that just won't behave, but not in anger. If your blood is boiling, walk away or you might hurt your pet.
2) Discipline immediately. This may seem like a contradiction after tip #1, but anger is the key ingredient that's missing here. Dogs don't have a very good sense of logic, nor very good memories, so disciplining a dog half an hour after bad behavior is usually wasted effort. He usually won't connect the punishment and what he did that caused it.
3) Use tone of voice to convey your displeasure. Dogs have extraordinary social intelligence (meaning they understand social cues from humans better than almost all other animals). An angry, disapproving voice gets your message across very clearly.
4) Use isolation in a small room or away from the family as another form of punishment. When the dog associates withdrawal of love and attention with bad behaviors, they will often stop doing the behavior over time.
5) Be consistent. Dogs are like children - they will push you to see just how much you'll let them get away with. If you only discipline your dog occasionally, they'll understand that they can behave any way they want to with only a small chance of being disciplined.
6) Be the 'top dog.' You dog instinctively looks for a 'leader of the pack' - and that should be you! Don't let the dog run your life; that's not what the 'top dog' does! Instead, teach your dog his place in the pack by using commanding tones and body language towards him. No wishy-washy commands or whiny voices! He will ultimately be happier because he knows where he stands, and will also try to get away with less.
7) Start early. If you don't discipline a puppy in the first few months, you're only making your job harder down the road when he's spoiled and convinced he's the king of the house.
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Author: Darren Pillsbury