If you notice your puppy or dog engaging in a behavior you’d rather not see repeated, make a promise right then and there to teach your dog what’s appropriate. Simply punishing the wrong behavior won’t work. Instead of punishing, teach your dog what you’d like.
Don’t live with the behavior for weeks, months, or years before you decide to change it. Dog’s habits die hard, just like people’s habits. If you’ve been hitting Starbucks every morning for two years, imagine how hard it would be to stop going. Not an easy thing! On the other hand, if you’ve only discovered Starbucks last week, it’s not very hard at all to drive right past.
Habits get stronger the longer they’re around. And it takes a lot more effort to change a habit than it does to prevent one from starting.
So: Is your dog staring to chew on things? Beginning to bark? Just now decided that the couch is his? Fast forward a few months — is this the way you want to live? With chewed up furniture (or shoes, or baseboard, or sofas?)? A chorus of woofing whenever someone walks past your yard? Sitting on the floor to watch TV?
The answers to the problems above would involve teaching your dog the right behaviors. For the chewer, you can help your dog by (1) buying dog toys that hold food (such as a Kong) and (2) keeping your stuff out of your dog’s reach.
For the barker, crate or confine your dog in a part of the house where he can’t see outside while you’re gone. When you’re home, sit with a bowl of delectable treats and every time your dog sees something he’ll bark at, give him a piece of food before he begins to bark.
For the couch hog, teach him a cue for "get on" and "get off." Hand targeting works great for this. If the dog is in your way when you want to sit on the couch, give him the "get off" cue and then reward him for complying. And invite him back up once your comfortably seated!
If you need the help of a professional, make sure your trainer is a positive reinforcement trainer (clicker training is an example of positive reinforcement training) and also make sure your trainer is certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Search for a trainer in your area here.