whale eyes

Correcting Bad Dog Behavior

When you search the internet for ways to correct bad dog behavior you can find 150 ways NOT to do it. ...but your dog is pulling your arm off, and you are frustrated!

I have more years of training horses under my belt than dogs. During all those years I was always told not to pull on my horses mouth. Instructors would stand in the center of the arena and yell for me to get off my HORSES mouth.

They would say ride from your seat (I hope none of MY students are reading this page.)

It wasn't until I found an amazing Mentor named Margeurite Browne (a riding student of Karl Mikolka for those of you in the know) that I was set straight.

She said to me, Kirsten, if your horse doesn't respond to your legs or seat and you can't touch his mouth, what then, are you left with to control your horse? Long pause...(the correct answer was, at that time, the mouth).

The point was, I had to teach my horse a positive way of listening so I could stop pulling on her mouth. If I kept on the other way, I would have never stopped pulling.

We often read about all the things we should not do to correct bad dog behavior (like pulling on our dog's leash, yell at them, grab the scruff of the neck, show them who is boss, use squirt bottles, gentle leaders, or any other type of collar). Then we read about how we should not let our dog sleep with us, eat with us, go out the door first, live outside, live inside, be off leash...But we never learn what we should do to correct bad dog behavior!

Imagine you have a leaky bathroom sink. For awhile it was a small leak and you ignored it. Then it got bigger and you wrapped some duct tape around the pipe and put a bucket down to catch the drips. At first you emptied the bucket once a month, but now you empty it once a week. You know it is going to get worse so you call the plumber. The plumber tells you that in order to fix the leak they have to get behind the wall where the pipes are. Once the plumber gets behind the wall he tells you that the pipes were installed wrong. Before you know it, you have to have the pipes ripped out and re-installed. This is where you learn that if you had called the plumber when the leak was small, he could have fixed the problem for about 25 dollars by changing the fitting closest to the leak.

Bad dog behavior started with a tiny, but not too annoying leak that was ignored. So what can you do about it now? Change tactics! Instead of plugging the leak with a fancy new kind of training collar, teach your dog a new behavior. If your dog constantly jumps on strangers and your solution has been to drag him off of them and scold him, you need to teach him how to greet humans. You can spend hours and hours discussing how your dog feels about people and why he wants to be at face level, etc. but that doesn't get you any solutions. Instead, ask yourself what you want your dog to be doing instead of jumping on people, and then ask for that behavior.

Picture your dog sitting calmly in front of a stranger. Write out the steps it will take to get him to that point - and then practice. It is really that simple and it won't take any more time than what you have been doing already, which hasn't been working anyway.Click here for more training articles.

When you teach your dog to what to do, instead of what not to do, you will have the proper tools to correct bad dog behavior!
If you like these ideas, get Karen Pryor's book Don't Shoot The Dog. This book is about behavior in all kinds of beings including humans. It's not just another dog training book.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top