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Behavior Training for Dogs and Puppies


    There's a popular saying among dog trainers: "There's no such thing as a bad dog."  While that may be true, any trainer will admit that there are dogs with very bad habits. Simply put, behavior is a way of acting and reacting. When a dog acts or reacts to a situation in a way that has a negative impact on her owner or others, the behavior is considered to be "bad."  Yet, to the dog or puppy, it's just what she does.


     Eliminating a bad behavior requires training to give the puppy a new behavior, or habit.One of the most common bad behaviors is jumping up on people. This habit is established when a dog is a puppy. Puppies jump at their mother to get her attention so she will feed them. Puppy owners find it adorable that their puppy works so hard to get their attention as she jumps. The naive owners come down to the puppy's level or pick the puppy up, not realizing they have just rewarded the puppy for jumping and barking. Unfortunately, behavior that is cute in a puppy often becomes annoying in an adult dog. Large puppys that jump on people for attention easily knock down and accidentally injure children and older people. Small puppies have less ability to injure someone, but usually dirty clothes and snag stockings. In both cases, while you might not mind your puppy jumping up on you, other people probably don't feel the same way.

     Training your puppy to sit to be petted is the easiest way to break the jumping habit. To help her develop the "sit for attention" habit, you must ignore her when she jumps on you. You might turn your back or simply walk away. If she follows you, turn quickly and tell her to sit. If she does, pet and praise her. You can reinforce this behavior by having her sit before you put her food bowl down. Every time she sits, she gets a reward of either attention or food. Every time she jumps she gets nothing.

     Another unpopular behavior is chewing. Destructive chewing is most often an indication your puppy is bored. If your puppy chews up the couch cushions or destroys a wicker chair while you are at work, it is probably because she had nothing else to do. If you look up from a book or television to find your puppy chewing on your favorite shoes, realize that she is releasing pent-up energy. Give your puppy the chance to exercise her body and brain. Plenty of physical exercise will tire her out so that she naps while you relax.

      Pet supply stores carry a variety of toys that provide mental stimulation-doggie puzzles to keep your pooch busy while you're away. Also, if your puppy is a chewer, make sure you give her chewing toys of her own. It is never a good idea to give your puppy an old shoe or sock to chew on; she can't tell the difference between your favorites and your discards and they all smell like you.

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