Do I Really Have to Break Bad Behaviors???
Ok my challenge, write an article on about breaking habits. Chewing, digging, barking, etc.… Well that is going to require some talk about replacement behaviors vs breaking habits. Think of breaking behaviors as saying NO and replacement behaviors as saying YES… Why on earth would I go to effort and desire of getting a dog if all I am going to do is hunt for bad behavior so I can tell my dog NO???
Instead, each time your dog does something you do not like I challenge you to not say NO but rather ask yourself what you would rather your dog be doing??? Hint, Hint this is the replacement behavior, and if you take the time to teach it to your dog… You will now have a behavior that you can say YES to and reward…Now with practice that replacement behavior becomes more rewarding than the original problem behavior, we have a solution to your problem without that nasty word NO (come on saying YES is more fun)
Let’s look at our specific behaviors of Chewing, Digging and Barking…
Chewing on inappropriate items… Answer redirect to appropriate items and management… First the more you allow practice chewing inappropriate items the better Fido becomes at trashing your house… So redirect or trade your pup to an appropriate toy when chewing the wrong thing… Now let’s also ask ourselves why your pooch was able to find, get and chew on something inappropriate? The answer will not be popular but it is because you allowed it (or at least were not actively managing Fido when he found it)… So clean up around the house, dog proof and redirect with appropriate chew items and in no time… Problem solved…
Digging (in the back yard I assume) Well, again let’s start with management… are you leaving your dog outside for hours on end with no direct supervision? Really and you are shocked that the dog is getting bored and actually doing dog stuff like digging???
Ok so let’s assume even with the sting of common sense you do not plan to address managing your dog so they do not learn bad behaviors… You can still create a replacement behavior… Build a dig box! Actually give your dog a space in the yard to get his dig on… A place you are OK with him digging! A couple of landscape timbers, some bags of sand and some cookies to burry (you know buried treasure, to make it more fun that the regular yard) and wha-la Fido is now digging an appropriate spot.
Or just manage your dog so they don’t learn bad habits from day one and you won’t have this problem… Again all it takes is redirection… At my house digging in the yard equals coming inside… Let’s face it a dog left alone to their own devices rarely chose what you would consider appropriate behaviors when bored….
Barking, again, what are you allowing your dog to practice and perfect? If you are letting your dog have tons of outside, alone time and just expect them to come up with something to do that is not dog like (barking digging or chewing) you are nuts… Let’s face it why do most folks put the dog in the backyard? Because the dogs are a pain inside and are hard to deal with, right? Then they start all the same behaviors just in the back yard… See a pattern?
First, you have to manage your dog, period! Dogs are social animals and want to be around us not by themselves, isolated to the back yard… So your first step is to actually spend time with the dog inside… If you are at work, then crated or doggy daycare, but if your dog is not trust worthy alone in the house then you might need to get the help of a trainer to help with rules and routine training J Again, Barking in my yard is on a 2 bark limit, meaning if you bark more than twice you have to come inside… That way my dogs are not allowed to practice bad behavior and drive my neighbor’s nuts. Not to mention if your dog was not bored out of his/her mind, they would not be barking… As the proof in this pudding, my four dogs are all quietly snoozing in the sunshine sleeping around chair as I write this article 🙂
The moral of this story is simple dog trainers cannot magically stop bad behaviors but we can with your help and assistance create replacement behaviors that are more rewarding or valuable to your dog than the bad ones driving you nuts! And when given the choice the dog will always pick the funner of the two behaviors (or at least the behavior that gets the better reward). That being said life is not all about rewards either and you as the doggy mommy or daddy will actually have to manage your dog so that they are not allowed to practice bad behaviors and create bad habits…
If you need help, a good trainer is only a phone call away, and we love creating replacement behaviors 🙂
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