Ain’t Misbehavin’

February 1, 2018 | By More


Here are a few common complaints…
“My dog is being so naughty”
“This dog has got no manners at all”
“He knows what I want, he just won’t do it”
“He gets mad when I leave him so he pees on the bed”
“The dog won’t obey my commands”

So, is your dog deliberately trying to upset you?  Is he willfully doing things you don’t want him to do?  Is he behaving like an incorrigible delinquent?   Or is he behaving like, you know…a dog?   If you’ve ever uttered one of the phrases above, then perhaps you might be expecting too much from your dog.

Most of us don’t really understand our dog’s behavior.   Yet we’re frustrated when the dog doesn’t understand us.   Some people will even project their own feelings onto what the dog is thinking or even “scheming.”

Expecting a dog to think like, act like, or innately understand humans, is as unrealistic as us assuming some of their social habits as our own.  Would you feel comfortable greeting someone with an awkwardly placed sniff?  Are you okay eating out of the gutter or drinking from the toilet?  Neither am I.

Dogs are amazing in that they can learn how to “unlearn” behaviors that are very natural to them and adapt to something new.  And they are so willing to make these changes if it makes us happy.  It will be easier for everyone if we are patient and take the time to show them what we want, and not just expect them to somehow magically know.
If your dog is doing something you don’t want him to do, try teaching him what you would like him to do instead.   And, this parts importantwhile he is learning this new behavior, you should keep him from practicing the old behavior in the meantime.    Here an example.

Unwanted Behavior:
Dog rushes to the door and jumps and barks on people as they try to enter the house.

Human Correction:
Yell at the dog to stop jumping and barking, or grab his collar and pull him away. (This will possibly make the behavior worse causing more agitation.)

New Behavior:
Instead, teach your dog to come to you for a cookie, when the doorbell rings,  or go to his special place away from the door to get a treat.

In the Meantime:
While he is still learning the new behavior… when the doorbell rings, put a leash on your dog and gently guide him to an area where he is out of the way and cannot jump on anybody.  Reward him with a cookie so he begins to make an enjoyable association with people coming to visit.

This is just one suggestion.  You can decide the right behavior that you would like your dog to learn.  But remember, first you must take the time to teach him what it is you want him to do.  Getting angry and punishing the dog for acting on instincts, may be teaching him to to fear you, or mistrust you.

Over the years in our efforts to learn about dogs, we have made many mistakes along the way.   What’s so amazing is their willingness to forgive, and be so intensely loyal even when we have not earned it.

Come on now people… let’s try to earn it.


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