20 Things Dog Owners Do That Cause Their Dogs To Misbehave

Many dog owners do not realize it, but an owner’s behaviors actually dictate how your dog is going to act and behave. There are several things to watch out for, so here is a list of 20 things an owner does to cause their dog to misbehave.

1. Potty Accidents. There’s really nothing worse than walking into a room and stepping in a giant puddle your puppy has left for you. It’s even worse when it’s not liquid that you step into, but did you know that the puddle (or pile) on the floor is less likely to be the dog’s fault, and more likely to be your own? Sure, a dog or puppy is suppose to let you know when they need to go out, but how do you think they learn that behavior. That’s right! You have to teach them. A puppy-in-training should never have free roam of the house, and they should be constantly watched. If you catch your pup peeing, it’s too late. Dog’s do not have the ability to stop mid-stream, so it’s best to schedule potty breaks every so often, as well as taking your dog out after a meal. Never go for more than a few hours without giving your dog the chance to do his business outside.

2. Nipping. Everyone finds it adorable to have a small puppy chew on their finger, but that cute little game can soon turn into a complete nightmare. By teaching your puppy that biting=playing, you are essentially telling them that it is not only okay to nip and bite, but that it is actually encouraged for them to do so. There’s no real good way to fix this problem once the behavior is learned. Start off by not allowing your puppy near human skin in the first place, especially near little fingers or toes. Don’t rough house with your dog, and they won’t try to rough house when it is unwanted.

3. Chewing. Your kid comes to you with a half-chewed Batman figure, or maybe a chewed up duplo block, and you tell them they shouldn’t have left their toys on the floor for the dog to pick up and chew. Now, rewind back to 30 minutes ago when you were carrying on about your favorite pair of shoes being chewed up. Or your work boots. You had it right when you were talking to your kid: You shouldn’t have left them in the floor! To a dog, especially a young pup, anything within reach is fair game. If you leave something on the floor while your pup is still learning to only chew on bones, you are going to have a rough time. Keep your stuff out of reach of the pup, and vice versa, and be sure to switch out anything you see being chewed on for a bone or chew toy.

4. Destroying the house while you’re out. Dogs are just like people. They have needs, feelings, and emotions. One of these is anxiety, and when they are home alone, many dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Just as a child throws a fit when it wants something, but does not know how to say it, so does a dog. This may lead to torn pillows, destroyed cloth, or even to your dog using the bathroom on your couch, floor, or bed. This really isn’t your dog’s fault. If you are giving a big farewell to your dog, and making it into a big thing, you dog is going to feel like it is a big thing, and it can and will cause your dog to become very anxious. Instead, simply walk out the door. If you must say bye, quickly say it, and leave. The less dramatic you make it, the less dramatic your dog will make it.

5. Barking, snapping, and/or growling at you or family members. Here it is very important to remember that dogs are pack animals. You have to let your dog know that you are the leader of the pack, otherwise, it may very well start to growl at you when you touch its toy, or sit too close to it when it doesn’t want. While some breeds are known to be more dominantly aggressive, chances are that your dog is acting this way because of something you did or didn’t do. It usually isn’t just one action that makes a dog think that it is the leader; it’s actually usually a lot of things. If your dog barks, maybe you give him his toy, or you feed him exactly when he wants to be fed, or you let him go where he wants without any restrictions. All of these things can lead to a dog forming the idea that he is the leader. How do you take back your rightful spot on pride rock? Don’t give your dog what he wants. If your dog wants to be fed or given a treat, hold the food/treat until your dog stops whining or barking. Once they give up and are no longer being demanding, give them the treat. Restrict your dog’s access to certain spots in the house. “Claim” them as your own. Doing this tells your dog that you make the decisions, and therefore, you wear the paws in the relationship.

6. Excessive barking. How many times has little FooFoo been outside, barking her head off? When you call her to come in, do you call for her all sweet-like? Do you entice her with a treat? Maybe you squeak her favorite toy to get her back in the house? Do you know what you just taught little FooFoo? You taught her that if she barks like a maniac, she gets love, attention, and maybe even a toy or treat. So, how do you get FooFoo to stop barking? Go outside with a treat, or even stand at the door. While your dog is barking, ignore him/her. Once they come over and stop barking, give them the treat. If your dog is good with “quiet” or “no,” then you can use those commands to get your dog to stop barking, and then give the treat. Just make sure you are reinforcing the proper behavior.

7. Jumping on guests. Your friends or family walk through the door, and the first thing Rover does is jump up on someone. You say, “Oh, sorry. He just likes to say hello.” Then very sweetly you say, “Rover, get down you silly boy!” You have just told your dog that you are thrilled that he is jumping up on people. Instead, have guests come over and provide treats. When Rover jumps up on them, tell them to not react. Have them wait until Rover calms down and sits. Once he sits, then they give him the treat.

8. Running away when being called back. This one can be extremely frustrating, and scary. There are many ways a dog can get hurt if they get loose, and having your dog run away is never a good feeling. So, you run after him, but he just keeps running. Finally, you decide to go get his favorite squeaky, or a food item, to lure him back. Once he is back, you scold him for running away. What did you just teach him? Coming when called will get him in trouble. Replace this thinking by instead letting your dog free in a safe place. Let him engage in something fun. Then try to bring him back. Once he comes when called, give him a treat and plenty of love. You will reinforce the idea that coming when called is a good thing.

9. Digging. This one is actually a bit tricky. Dogs do tend to be natural-born diggers, but you also have to be careful about when your dog is digging in relation to reinforcing the behavior. Say GiGi is scratching, pawing, or digging at the ground. Then, you call her to you and give her praise. In your mind, you just praised her for coming to you and being a good girl. In her mind, you just praised her for digging at the ground, and from there, she will be dead set on making you happy about all the holes in the ground. To correct this, either watch your dog very carefully while outside and call him off the digging when he does it, or create an area that is okay for your dog to dig. Teach them to dig in this area by rewarding them when they dig here.

10. Playing in the middle of the night. This one is totally, completely, and wholeheartedly on you. Dogs are often allowed to sleep whenever they want, which already creates a bad schedule. But how many times did a late-night venture outside to potty become playtime? If you allowed this kind of behavior when your dog was a pup, he/she will continue to do it later in life. The best thing you can do for yourself is let your dog out, and put him/her right back to bed. You may have to endure a few nights of whining, but that beats getting jumped on or having a slobbery toy thrust in your face in the middle of the night.

11. Begging. No, we don’t mean the “sitting pretty” kind of begging, although they sometimes do that too. We mean the “I’m looking at you. I’m looking at your food. I’m looking at you. Now, I’m whining” kind of begging. Again, this one is probably, in all reality, totally your own fault. Remember when Bailey was a cute, cuddly little puppy, and it was just SO hard to deny her a piece of bread from your plate? Well, that piece of bread has turned into your worst nightmare. The best way to handle this is to not let it happen at all, but if it’s already too late for you, your best bet is to feed Bailey DOG food while you eat. If she won’t have that, ignore her. Dogs will often give up and go eat what is available to them (dog food). If you have small children, it might be best to put Bailey in another room until the meal time is complete.

12. Stealing food. This one stems from “begging,” but is often different. Stealing food can be very upsetting for the person trying to eat, and devastating to a dog who has stolen a food that is not good for them. It can mean vet visits, and illness. It can also mean ruined family get-togethers. The best way to avoid this is to never let the opportunity present itself. This can be difficult, especially if you have a large dog, kids, and other distractions, but prevention is the key. Give your dog something else to do, and if you must step away from the food, take your dog with you.

13. Pulling. This one, again, can be a very easily learned behavior. It only takes one time of FeeFee pulling on the leash and getting away with it for it to be an utter nightmare. In order to teach your dog to stop pulling, when he/she does, stop right where you are. Once your dog stops pulling and is looking at you, you may start walking again, but if he starts pulling, repeat the process. Eventually, your dog will learn that he only gets to go when you are the one in control.

14. Car sickness. This one is a little tricky. While your dog getting sick probably isn’t something he decides to do on purpose, you are probably helping in the cause of his upset tummy. Dogs get anxious in cars. In order to help with that, load your dog in the car, and bring treats, a toy, or something else he enjoys. Just chill in the running car for a bit and let him get used to the idea of being in the car. Next, go for a short drive. Up the driveway or around the block is fine. From there, travel a little more each time. Your dog will stop getting sick, and you will stop getting frustrated.

15. Submissive Urination. Again, this one is more of an instinct, and it’s more of what you’re not doing than what you are. Submissive urination usually occurs when you come home. Little Fiona comes running up to you, and pees right in front of you, making a nice puddle at your feet. She’s not purposefully misbehaving, but rather, she is submitting. This can be very frustrating, but can often be fixed by allowing the dog to calm down before you bend over to pet her, or by distracting her with treats so that she does not urinate on the floor.

16. HUGE lap dogs. Yes. This is all your fault. You bought that cute little chocolate lab, and you took it with you everywhere, and even as it grew you let it sit in your lap while watching a movie. Then, one day, that full-grown 65 pound, 2-foot-tall lab takes a flying leap off of the floor, only to land square in your lap. I do believe we don’t even have to point fingers here. This is often a hard problem to break, as your dog was taught growing up that he/she was, in fact, a lap dog, and now you’re trying to change the game. The best way to handle this is to 1. stop letting your dog sit in your lap, and 2. designate a spot for your dog to sit. When your dog goes to jump in your lap, instead, direct them to their spot. Give them a treat once they relax into that spot.

18. Constant attention seeking. This is often caused by your dog not getting enough exercise. Dogs need outlets for their energy. Taking them out for a walk, run, or playing a game of fetch can be very stimulating. If you have a big back yard, put stand-along toys up for your dog to interact with. They’ll love it!

19. Fear-based aggression. Fear-based aggression is often due to lack of socialization with other people, animals, and environments. When a dog feels threatened, they will often times revert to aggression. You only feed into this more by only taking your dog out when absolutely necessary. In order to break this cycle, start off my gaging your dogs aggression. If you believe your dog might bite someone, get a muzzle to prevent any accidents. It’s best to start off with just a few people, in your own home. Once your dog is comfortable with that, start taking your dog out and introducing it to the world.

20. Marking. This one again, isn’t so much of what you are doing, but rather, what you are not doing. By allowing your dog to mark in the first place, you basically gave your dog full permission. This is also instinctive, so the best way to keep a dog from marking is 1. Have your dog spayed or neutered. This fixes a lot of problems with marking. If this doesn’t work, try to keep the scent of other dogs out of the house. A dog won’t mark over a scent if it’s not there.

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