We all have a few bad habits that we have picked up over time. Like humans, dogs can pick up some bad habits as they grow. Lucky for us, it’s easier to break a dog’s unwanted behavior than change our own. Dogs learn by association. They are bound to repeat an action that is rewarded. Below are two of the most common bad dog habits—and how to break them.
Chewing, especially in puppies, is not a bad thing. Dogs chew on things to release some pent up energy. Not only that, it keeps their teeth and gums in good shape. But to everyone’s annoyance, dogs often chew inappropriately—destroying plants, cushions, and shoes in their paths. Your dogs must learn what objects are meant for chewing and what is not.
Instead of punishing them for inappropriate chewing, give them chew toys and treats to distract them. Practice positive reinforcement, every time they choose to chew on their toys instead of household objects, by praising them or giving small treats.
Begging for Food
We know those puppy dog eyes are hard to resist, but if your dog is constantly begging for food in the table, you probably have reinforced that behavior in the past. As hard as it is, you must be consistent not to feed them while you’re at the dinner table or snacking in front of the TV.
Over time, your dog will learn that begging will not give them what they want and will stop the unwanted behavior. You may also train your dog to stay in his bed while you’re eating or plan his meals around your own, so that he will be busy chowing from his bowl while you’re busy eating on your plate.
The most important thing to remember to break a dog’s bad habits is make sure that they only get a reward when they do good. This doesn’t mean you should opt for negative reinforcement such as yelling, or other forms of punishment for your dog. Instead find ways to redirect your puppy to positive behavior and reward them for their actions.