Are you having a bad day with your dog? Does everything they do drive you barking mad? Here are my dog behaviour sanity-savers for every occasion.
First of all, sit down and slow down. Dogs pick up on your signals, so if you are stressed out, that won’t help.
Too much to do?
- The Dog – Is the dog tired? Puppies often seem to get more mouthy and frantic when they need a good nap. This can happen especially if you have a busy home or at busy family events which will tire your dog out more quickly. So, don’t be afraid to give them a quiet place to sleep when you spot the first signs (usually a child yelling that the puppy is hanging off their trousers or sleeves). A crate is good, or a quiet corner, or use a houseline to keep puppy near you and near their bed. This is not ‘punishment’ as such, although it is ‘time out’. Why leave your dog making mischief and learning all the attention for unwanted behaviour lessons that go along with it?
- You – Well, it could be that you are just plain tired. A client of mine rang me the other day saying she could no longer cope with her young dog due to his behaviour. It turned out after we had had a nice chat, that the poor lady had had very little sleep as she has young children. She is a terrific parent and has been very succesful in training her puppy so far. Nevertheless, a setback had really knocked her for six. It’s not as obvious as it sounds. My job sometimes involves feeding back what I am hearing to give an owner a bit of an outside view. In this case, she was tired out and the puppy’s normally bouncy antics were just too much on that day. The cure? Give it a couple of days and bring back the household controls such as a houseline and regular naps – for you and the dog too. You could even ask family, or a neighbour, or doggy day care just to take the dog for the day while you get things back within your comfort zone. It works!
Not enough to do?
Well, yes, opposite of the above, and more common in older dogs in my experience. The old saying goes, ‘a tired dog is a good dog’ (note: not an ‘overtired’ dog – see above, and make sure your dog doesn’t have hip or back problems!). Here are your essentials:
- How easy is it for your dog to get their dinner? Really easy? In a bowl, lasts two seconds? Make them work for it with a treat ball, pyramid or tug-a-jug toy. On a budget? Consider scatter-feeding by sprinkling your dog’s food in the garden to make them hunt for their food. Or, hide it in small mounds. There is no law in the dog world that states ‘Food shalt be served in a bowl’. Your dog has a highly developed nose and often an excellent hunting instinct. Get them to use it.
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. A half hour spin around the block is not really enough. Two walks a day, please, if you find your dog is being a bit of a nightmare. If you can’t do that yourself, get a dog walker to help you.
Having problems with this? Bad dog day every day?
Well, if people like you didn’t exist I would not be as busy doing my job as I am, so first of all pat yourself on the back and say ‘Welcome to the human dog-owning race’. Lots and lots of people are in exactly the same situation as you, and I am here to help if I can.
Dog won’t come back? Does this mean you can’t take it off lead to exercise it properly? You could download my mini-books ‘Rock Solid Recall’ or ‘Stop your dog Running Away’ (choose the adolescent dog tab)
Maybe your dog is pulling you on its lead. Again, there’s a mini-book ‘Stop your dog pulling on the lead’ on this very site that will help you with fast, non-gimmicky results. If that isn’t for you, get someone in to give you tailored advice – it doesn’t have to be me! Consult a qualified expert for proper help.
So, next time you are pulling your hair out, don’t go for a hair of the dog (it’s a drink, folks). Take a deep breath, assess what you can do, take the advice above – and above all, think ‘In six months, it will all be very different’.