Archive for the 'Dog behavior' Category

Why You Should Train Your Small Dog

The reasons for training large, powerful dogs are obvious and abundant.  You need to be able to control them and they’re often much stronger than you.  They can very easily outrun you and it’s very possible they could hurt another person, whether intentionally or inadvertently.  Even just walking a bigger dog on a leash can be next to impossible if the dog hasn’t received some basic obedience training.

Small dogs, on the other hand, are not strong or threatening.  All you have to do is pick them up – problem solved, right?  Wrong.  It’s very important for you and for your small dog that you take it through at least some basic obedience training.  The health of your dog and your relationship with them will be greatly improved with just a small investment in obedience training.


Aggression in small dogs is very common.  Many small dog owners don’t see this as a problem because they figure their dog is too small to hurt anyone.  This is both an errant assumption to make and an insufficient reason not to address your dog’s aggressive behavior.  Aggression is just as much a problem in small dogs as it is in larger dogs.

Small dogs are very likely to become aggressive precisely because they never receive the obedience training that larger dogs get.  People tend to think that everything they do is cute and so inappropriate behavior is rewarded.  Also, the easiest way to control a small dog is simply to pick them up.  This gives them the attention they want and reinforces the inappropriate behavior as well.

Being the Alpha

All of these dynamics make the small dog think it is in control – it is the dominant one in the owner-dog relationship.  If you don’t assert your dominance effectively and consistently, your dog will forever be fighting you for the top spot in the pack.  This is not going to get your dog to behave well and it’s not healthy for the dog either.

The benefits of obedience training are not limited to the specific commands you teach your dog.  By taking your dog through an obedience training regimen, you’re establishing your authority and opening a clear line of communication with your dog.  Having this type of relationship with your dog is just as important no matter what size your dog is.


Having an established way of communicating with your dog is definitely important for the health of your relationship with your dog, but it’s also vital to ensuring his safety as well.  When your dog listens to you and respects your authority, you can protect it from a variety of dangerous situations.  If you don’t have the tools to command your dog’s attention and respect, you won’t be able to keep him safe nearly as effectively.

If you own a small dog, you no doubt want the best for it.  In order to make sure you’re giving your dog the best care possible, it is terribly important that you take it through some basic obedience training.  This really takes very little effort and the benefits are numerous.  You may very well be shocked at how much some simple training can improve your relationship with your dog.

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Claudie on October 5th 2010 in Dog behavior, Dog Ownership, Toy Dogs, training Tips

How to Stop Excessive Barking

Some problem behaviors are more straightforward to deal with than others.  Learning how to deal with your dog’s excessive barking problem can seem difficult on several levels.  It is absolutely possible to correct and deal with this type of behavior, but you have to take a few things into account first.  There are a lot of reasons why dogs bark, and you can’t stop them from barking all of the time.  You also don’t want to stop your dog from barking when it may be appropriate.


Your dog may bark because he isn’t getting enough mental or physical stimulation.  Just like a little kid acting out, your dog may bark because he’s bored.  Make sure your dog is getting the exercise and attention he needs from you.  Don’t pay attention to him when he barks like this though.  A direct reaction to this type of barking, even a negative one, will only encourage your dog to behave the same way again.


Your dog may be bred to bark a lot.  Many herding dogs and hounds have this trait because of the jobs they were bred to do.  If you have one of these breeds of dog, he may be barking because it’s in his genes.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t train your dog not to bark when it’s inappropriate.  It is important to be aware of the possible causes of the excessive barking so that you can approach correcting it in the right way.


Dogs are pack animals.  Your dog may bark excessively when you leave him home alone because he’s separated from his pack and doesn’t know how else to find you again.  This can be one of the most difficult excessive barking problems to address, but it can be done when you know what is causing the problem.

The main pitfall you have to be sure to avoid in this type of situation is unconsciously rewarding your dog’s barking every time you come home.  If your dog is barking while you’re gone and then you come home and immediately give him attention, he will think it was his barking that caused you to return.  In order to break this cycle, you have to ignore your dog if he is barking when you first arrive home.  Only once he’s settled can you initiate contact and give him the attention he wants.


Your dog may bark when a person he doesn’t know comes near the house.  This could be anyone that your dog perceives to be a threat to their territory.  It can be particularly difficult to eliminate this behavior if your dog is barking at the mailman or other delivery person because these people are guaranteed to reward the behavior every time.  The mailman comes, your dog barks, the mailman leaves.  It’s not an impossible cycle to break, but it will definitely take some work.

These are just a few of the reasons that dogs may bark excessively.  It is an annoying problem and an important one to fix, but it’s good to keep in mind too that there are times when you’ll want your dog to bark.  Barking can be a healthy way for your dog to express himself.  He just has to know when it’s appropriate and when it’s not.

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Claudie on September 27th 2010 in Dog behavior, Dog Ownership

How to Deal with Food Agression

It may seem completely normal for your dog to be aggressive around and protective of his food.  Generally that’s a trait most wild animals would display because food is such a precious resource to them.  Allowing your dog’s food aggression to continue unaddressed, though, is unwise.  Particularly if your dog is aggressive towards you around food, this can lead to a dangerous situation for you or another member of your family.  In order to understand how to address this problem, you need to understand what motivations your dog is really acting on.


Just like with many other problem behaviors, your dog’s food aggression is a result of a struggle for dominance.  In a pack, the leader or alpha eats first.  If your dog is aggressive towards other animals when food is involved, it’s often because your dog is trying to assert his dominance over them in the household hierarchy.  In a case like this, it is a good idea to separate the aggressive animal during meal times.

If your dog is aggressive towards you around food, it means that the dog feels he is fighting you for dominance.  This isn’t a situation you can afford to tolerate.  Even if your dog is small, it can become a big problem quickly.  You need to take steps to ensure that your dog knows you are in charge.  There are a variety of training techniques you can use to accomplish this quickly and safely.

Chain of Bad Behavior

Correcting your dog’s perception of your relationship can have a positive effect on just about every aspect of your dog’s behavior.  If your dog is aggressive when you are around his food, it’s likely that the dog is challenging your authority in other ways as well.

This may seem like an overwhelming situation.  In reality, you can fix all of these behaviors at once by establishing your role as alpha in all situations.  Once your dog knows that you are in charge, you’ll find his bad behaviors occur much less often and are easier to correct.  If you really think your dog may pose a physical threat to you or a member of your family though, you should consult a professional dog trainer.


Another reason your dog may be aggressive around food is that he doesn’t know if or when he will get more.  This confusion causes your dog to guard and hoard his food like he would do in the wild.  Structuring meal times and keeping him on a schedule can help to reassure your dog that he doesn’t need to worry about where his next meal is coming from.

There are a lot of effective ways to deal with food aggression in your dog.  Depending on the cause of the behavior and the extent or severity of the aggression, you may want to consult a professional dog trainer for advice or help in dealing with this type of problem.  You are not the only one who will benefit from addressing this problem either.  Your dog will be much happier and healthier once he knows that he doesn’t need to worry about protecting his food.

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Claudie on September 21st 2010 in Dog behavior, training Tips

Dealing with Your Dog’s Enthusiastic Digging Behavior

Dogs dig for a wide variety of reasons.  They may be bored and looking to find a way to entertain themselves.  They could also be looking for a way to get your attention.  Digging is also a natural behavior that has several uses for animals in the wild.  There are some breeds of dogs that just have the behavior hard-wired into them.  They may be digging to make a den for themselves, or to create a good hiding place for some treat or treasure.

Amos digging pot

Amos digging pot

Basically, it is normal for dogs to dig and there are a lot of reasons they do it.  If this type of behavior is becoming a problem for you though, there are several easy and effective ways to deal with it.

Pop ‘n’ Stop

One sneaky way to stop your dog from digging is to scare them out of it.  Try blowing up some balloons and burying them in the area of your yard where your dog likes to dig.  Popping a balloon while they’re digging is not an experience your dog is likely to enjoy at all.  If they repeat the experience even just a few times, your dog is probably going to make enough negative associations with digging that they won’t want to do it again.

Another variation on this technique is to bury chicken wire or something similar in the area your dog likes to dig.  The experience of hitting the wire in the process of digging a hole can lead to the same kinds of negative associations as the popping of the balloon.

Wear Him Out

Your dog may simply be digging because he is not getting enough physical or mental stimulation.  Making sure your dog is getting enough attention and exercise can be all it takes to put his digging plans on hold.  This will also work if your dog is digging to try and get your attention.

Giving your dog a reasonable amount of attention by playing with him and walking him frequently can help stop unwanted digging behavior and take care of some other problems too.  In fact, a lot of bad behavior is a result of a dog not getting the attention or exercise they need.  Some dogs are naturally more high energy than others and so can require a bit of extra stimulation and exercise.

Make Him a Sandbox

Creating a special digging space for your dog can be a great way to give them what they need and still keep your yard, garden, and flower beds intact.  Cordon off an area and fill it with soft sand or soil that is loosely packed and easy to dig in.  Bury some of your dog’s favorite treats or toys in this area and encourage your dog to dig them up.  It should not take long for him to realize that this is his digging area and that digging here is much more beneficial than digging in other parts of the yard.

Bad behaviors put a huge strain on the relationship between you and your dog.  It doe not have to be that way though.  Taking a few simple steps to address an unpleasant behavior may be all it takes to improve your relationship with your dog and allow you to enjoy each other’s company again.

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Claudie on September 16th 2010 in Dog behavior, training Tips

Dealing with your Dog’s Inappropriate Chewing

Dogs chew on things.  It is  a common and natural behavior.  It is also good for them because it helps to keep their teeth and gums healthy and clean.  However, chewing can be a big problem if your dog chooses to chew on the wrong objects.  You need to be able to direct their chewing to appropriate objects.  This is important both for your sanity and for the health and well-being of your dog.

Good Options

One of the most important steps to take when you are trying to establish good chewing habits for your dog is to make sure he has plenty of good chew toys available.  It is good for your dog to chew on things however you just have to make sure they are the right things.  Having a healthy assortment of chew toys on hand is a good way to make sure that your dog will be able to satisfy his need to chew without destroying something that is  important to you.


Having appropriate chew toys on hand also makes it possible for you to substitute a chew toy for your slipper or whatever else your dog enjoys chewing on at the moment.  Being able to provide your dog with an appropriate alternative is a great way to get him to understand what an appropriate chewing target is and what is not.

Obedience Basis

Just like with any other bad behavior, establishing a good foundation of obedience training is the best way to correct the problem.  This will allow you to open a clear path of communication with your dog and make it clear to your dog that you are in charge.  Once you have opened the lines of communication, you will have a much easier time dealing with specific behavioral problems.

Dangers of Chewing

It can be annoying and expensive if your dog makes a habit of chewing on inappropriate things around the house.  That is not the only reason to make it a priority to put a stop to that type of behavior however.  If your dog does not have any boundaries when it comes to chewing, it is likely he will wind up chewing on something dangerous sooner or later.

There are plenty of things around the house that could hurt your dog if he decided to chew on them.  Electrical wires and cleaning products are probably the most common hazards for dogs who chew indiscriminately, but they are hardly the only dangerous household items.  Training your dog to only chew on appropriate toys is the best way to ensure their safety.

Tailoring the Solution to the Problem

Addressing behavioral problems is the best way to make sure that you and your dog will enjoy a long and happy relationship.  As with many behavioral problems, your dog’s inappropriate chewing may have several causes.  In order to stop it and reinforce the correct behavior, it is important to understand where the unwanted behavior is coming from.  This is the only way you will be able to approach the problem from the right angle and is the best way to ensure quick positive results.

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Claudie on September 15th 2010 in Dog behavior, training Tips

Dealing With Dog to Dog Aggression

It is very common for dogs to be aggressive towards other dogs in certain situations.  Particularly when they are in their territory or on a leash, dogs can feel trapped or threatened.  In this type of situation, many dogs will react by showing hostility towards another dog they see or come in contact with.  They are protecting you, their territory or themselves.  This all makes sense, but that does not mean that dog to dog aggression is something you have to live with.  You should do something about it.

In order to deal effectively with dog to dog aggression, you have to view it as you would any other bad behavior.  As any bad behavior, dog to dog aggression can be addressed and eliminated by utilizing the proper training techniques.  You may feel that you can just deal with it, but addressing dog to dog aggression is better for you and your dog for several reasons:

1 –   Your relationship with your dog

If your dog engages in aggressive behavior towards other dogs, it can put a great strain on the relationship between you and your dog.  This type of bad behavior can make walks frustrating and  unpleasant experiences for both of you.  You will be unhappy with your dog, and your dog will likely be confused about why.  As far as the dog is concerned this is necessary behavior as in his/her mind, they were protecting you and themselves and will not understand why you are unhappy.

2 –   Safety

It will also be better for both your safety and that of your dog if you can eliminate dog to dog aggressive behavior.  There are numbers of unpleasant scenarios to contemplate.  Your dog may pull you down trying to get at another dog, or he may break free of your grasp all together.  These are not good situations to contemplate, but if you have an aggressive dog, it is likely that you have thought about them more than once.

3-   Take Charge

It is time to do something about this aggressive behavior.  To do this though, you have to take charge of your relationship with your dog and take control of the situation.  Your dog will respond to the cues he gets from you.  You need to stay calm and patient throughout the training process.  It can take some time, and certainly some effort on the part of both you and your dog, but it can be done.

Just like in any other training situation, you need to be the alpha – the boss.  There can be no ambiguity in your dog’s mind about who is in charge – him or you.  Once you have accomplished this, you are already half way there.  Maintaining your consistency during every training session is essential to your success as well.

Unfortunately there is no use hoping this behavior will go away.  In fact, aggressive behavior, if not addressed, will often only get worse with time.  The sooner you do with it the better.

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Claudie on September 7th 2010 in Dog behavior, training Tips