The do’s and don’ts of dog parenting are crucial for any dog owner to understand. It’s easy to send the wrong message or even mixed messages, and it often goes unnoticed by dog parents. Dogs won’t figure things out — you have to be clear about what’s acceptable and what’s not. This list of things to improve dog behavior will help you.
1. Put Off Medical Care
First thing’s first — never neglect regular visits to the vet. Your dog’s health and well-being depend on good medical care. If you’re finding the vet in your area too pricey, shop around for more affordable care.
2. Improve Dog Behavior
Once your dog’s health is in check, focus on behavior. Never use physical punishment! For instance, if you’re trying to discipline Fido for “going” on the rug hours ago, he won’t understand what he did wrong, so the punishment is useless. Instead, verbal lessons with a firm but an in-control voice are better. However, the important thing with training your dog is all about rewarding good behavior. Rewards come with praise and a treat, and they help! However, you must reward when necessary without making the mistake of rewarding bad behavior. Punishment should be practiced to decrease a preceding behavior. Alternatively, a reward does the exact opposite to increase and encourage the behavior preceding. This practice will lead to your dog wanting to please you because it will know when it gets the desired results–a treat or praise, or even both! Positive reinforcement in dogs (and kids) works just as positive punishment.
This brings us to negative punishment, which will remove something your dog desires. For example, take away your dog’s food bowl if it demonstrates any sign of food aggression. In doing so, you’ll remove this aggressive incentive, and so, the dog will not have anything further for which to fight.
Most of us love our dogs so much that we are guilty of too much reinforcement (yes, that is a thing!). For instance, we tend to be less conscience of reinforcing behavior that comes naturally, like when a dog is afraid, but through natural instinct, we comfort our furry friend right after, which will end up increasing that fearful behavior.
So, how do you correct those mistakes?
Replace the word “punishment” with the word “correction.” The goal, or at least the result, is still the same — reducing undesired behaviors.
2. Punishing a Dog for a Bathroom Accident
Punishing a dog, such as by rubbing his nose in the potty mess is not an ideal solution and could be counterproductive. Don’t physically punish it either! Instead, positive reinforcement will do the trick. Just use a treat every time your dog does his business outdoors, which is positive reinforcement, as above. See more potty training tips.
3. Take a Puppy to a Dog Park
Watch what types of dogs are at the dog park before letting your dog off for some fun. Keep in mind that other dogs may bully them. The same applies to any untrained adult dog. Also, a young puppy that hasn’t been fully vaccinated may fall seriously ill around other dogs and wildlife.
4. Allowing Dogs to Eat Anything and Everything
Dogs are not humans, and some foods can be potentially fatal to them, not because an individual dog has a food allergy, but because dogs are not meant to eat certain foods, like chocolate. Learn which foods to never feed your dog.
5. Being Cheap on Stimulation
A dog that is lacking stimulation will be bored, and a bored dog could display unfavorable behavior. Who could blame it? So, be sure to give your dog some mental and physical stimulation every day. Go out for long walks, play games, and pay attention to him. Exercise is known to relieve stress, and yes, even dogs become stressed.
At first, all these tips can be difficult because it is hard to change habits, but with persistence, you can do it, and your dog will follow suit.