When you first get your dog, you probably imagine fun games of catch, long relaxing walks, and the friendship that is sure to develop. You probably aren’t thinking about chewed couch cushions, digging in the kitchen trash, and nips at your ankles. We all want a happy and well-behaved dog, but how do we get from a rambunctious puppy to a calm and well-trained dog? Here are a few tips to help encourage positive behavior in your dog.
Use Positive Training
Don’t use training methods that punish or frighten your dog. Use a calm tone of voice, plenty of praise, and award with treats (which you will lessen over time as they master a skill). It’s best to start training when your dog is young, before those pesky behaviors like chewing on the furniture become the norm. Be sure to discourage biting when they are young. Give them a toy to chew instead of your hand and teach them the “leave it” command.
Keep Them Active
Just like bored kids, bored dogs are bound to find trouble. The best way to combat this is to find plenty of opportunities for active play. Walks, trips to the park, and games of tug or catch can keep your dog moving. You can also help encourage mental stimulation by getting creative. Try hiding your dog’s favorite toy for him to find, teach him a new trick, play hide and seek, or take a different route when walking.
Dogs who are used to being around a variety of people and other animals are usually much more social. Socializing can reduce fear and anxiety, increase happiness, and reduce aggression. Trips to the dog park are an excellent opportunity for socializing. Start slow, meet a doggie friend in the neighborhood, or attend a puppy class.
Spend Time with Them
Dogs who feel neglected are more likely to be anxious and stressed. When you spend quality time with your dog, they are going to be much happier and form a stronger bond with you. Building this trust makes it much easier to train them as well. Plus, spending time with your dog is shown to decrease your own stress and increase your happiness, so it’s a win-win here.
It may seem daunting at first when you have an excited puppy on your hands, but with time and patience, you can help encourage positive behaviors in your dog. It’ll be worth all the effort when you have a happy, well-behaved dog, and those dreams of games of catch and long relaxing walks become a reality.