Managing or preventing dog behavior problems is an important step in solving them. Once you know what triggers the bad behavior and how it’s being reinforced, you can avoid those situations that drive your dog to the dark side. Then you can teach him alternative or incompatible behaviors as a more permanent solution.
How behavior management helps
Finding ways to manage your dog’s behavior problem is extremely important as you work toward a long-term solution through retraining.
It keeps the bad behavior in check
Because a dog will repeat behaviors that are rewarding, a bad behavior can quickly grow out of control. The more your dog does it, the more likely he is to do it again. If you keep him from repeating the behavior, you break this cycle and stop the problem from getting worse. It’s also easier to teach your dog a good alternative behavior if the bad one hasn’t become an automatic reaction for him.
It keeps your relationship with your dog healthy
It’s easy to get frustrated when you find chewed up shoes or poo on the living room carpet. When you manage or prevent your dog’s problem behavior, you avoid situations like these that can make you less appreciative of his companionship. You’ll avoid negative feelings and be more optimistic about retraining your dog for positive behaviors.
Ways to manage problem behavior
On the surface the idea is simple: don’t let your dog practice an unwanted behavior. But you may have to be creative in finding ways to do the things you normally do while avoiding situations that could trigger the problem. The following are some examples of how to manage different issues.
- If your dog’s not housebroken, keep him in his crate or in a confined area when he can’t be supervised.
- If your dog likes to chew things, clean up regularly and keep chewable objects out of reach. Also, keep him in his crate when you can’t watch him.
- If your dog jumps on guests, keep his leash on and put your foot on it to keep him from jumping up.
- If your dog doesn’t come to you when you call, keep him on a leash in public places until he gets better with the recall command.
Whether you use a crate, a leash, time outs, or an avoidance strategy, do what it takes to keep your dog’s bad behavior contained. Once you have a lid on the problem you can train an alternative or incompatible behavior to eliminate it altogether.