It generally follows, then, that I am often asked: "How do I stop my dog from doing bad things." It's a fair question – how do you get rid of the bad stuff?!
It's relatively easy and there are a few different options. Let's take a look at the solution in detail. First, take a look at that picture. Those are library books. Damage courtesy of Talos, the Great Dane.
If I'm wearing my Dog Trainer Hat, my first question to this owner (me, obviously) would be: How did the dog get those books? Dogs have a hard time getting in trouble if we limit their access to get-in-trouble things (like library books). In this specific situation, I had to make a quick dash to the grocery store, wasn't gone more than 30 minutes. I was too lazy to crate Talos and this is the scene to which I returned.
Many dog owners think their dogs should "know better." What do they (the dogs) know? That this was a library book? That it cost money? What the heck is money to a dog?! To Talos, this was just something new to chew. It might as well been a brand new dog toy I bought him. (In the end, I guess, it was…)
So. If you don't want your dog to do something, limit his options! I told you this was going to be relatively easy. When you limit your dog's options, you'll also provide ample opportunity for your dog to get involved in acceptable behaviors. In my case, the easy solution would have been to crate Talos with a peanut-butter-stuffed Kong. That would have kept him out of trouble and reinforced him for being in the crate. But more importantly, it would reduce his habit of chewing on things on the coffee table.
If you can't do it, you don't develop a habit for it. Simple, simple, simple.
Think about all those things you want to stop your dog from doing. Here are some of the most common complaints and easy, simple solutions:
- Problem: Raiding the trash. Solution: cover the trash with a lid or put it out of reach of the dog. (He can't find out how delectable items in the trash are if he can't get his head into the trash bin.)
- Problem: Jumping on you and guests. Solution: Put your dog on a leash so he can't reach the guests AND teach him to sit in the midst of distractions.
- Problem: Barking at people from inside the house. Solution: Close the blinds so he can't see out AND teach him how to speak and shhh when you ask him to (and then don't ask him to speak very often).
- Problem: Chewing the table, baseboard, shoes. Solution: Keep a keen eye on your dog. Don't let him out of sight. Redirect him to an appropriate doggie chew toy and then praise effusely when he pays attention to his own toys.
I could go on, but you're getting the picture. It's pretty simple once you start thinking like a dog!