Prevent common misbehavior problems with these tips

By on January 26, 2016

To wrap up National Train Your Dog month, we’ve got a few tips related to two common misbehavior problems that affect many dog owners. If your dog barks at everything or gets a little too nippy, this post will help you recognize the problem, diagnose it and put a plan into action. Don’t fret! Most pups and many adult dogs use their mouths a little more than owners would like, but some education and practice can cut down on the noise and nipping.


Excessive Barking is a problem many dog owners deal with and many aren’t quite sure how to properly correct and train pooches to stop. Barking can be due to a variety of reasons. Dogs can be territorial, aggressive, anxious, obsessive, compulsive and more. These behaviors are sometimes tough to deal with.

“It comes down to what the particular reason is for the barking,” says Jaime Lundeby, owner of Unleashed Omaha Dog Training. “In territorial barking, we use leadership exercises to establish the dog does not need to worry about who’s at the door or window. We must try to get them use to the things they’ll see in their everyday environment.”  Laying down a solid foundation of obedience and teaching your dogs to be neutral to all stressors will alleviate a lot of the nuisance barking.

When the dog understands that you are the pack leader and protector of the household (not him), the territorial nature of his barking dissipates because he looks to you for the decision making. “Aggressive barking is handled in a similar way. We establish new pack structure and a dog life with boundaries, guidance and advocacy.” As counterproductive as it sounds, one of the ways to teach a dog to stop barking is to put the barking to a command.  If you are able to trigger your dogs barking with a sound or action, this is going to be the key to teaching your dog “how to bark.”

With a clicker in hand (a common training tool you should consider using) and a bunch of treats, perform whatever action or sound that triggers your dog’s bark. When your dog barks, click the clicker and give your dog a treat. Repeat this action until you have your dog consistently barking at the stimulus to access the treat after you click the behavior. Once you have the consistency of the bark from the stimulus, you’re going to name the command.  Say the word “SPEAK” immediately following the action or sound that makes your dog bark. Do this every time. When the dog barks, click and treat.

Say “Speak!” Here’s the process once again:

1. Stimulating action

2. Barking

3. Click

4. Treat

Perform this a handful of times. “Eventually, through association, your dog will hear you say the word “Speak” and he will anticipate the stimulating sound is coming through that association. He will bark without hearing the sound when he does click-and-treat,” Jaime says.

Now, you have the barking solely on the word “Speak” without the noise.  If your dog stops barking from just the word “speak,” just revert back to bringing in the stimulus until the association is made and they are barking only from the word “Speak.” You have taught this behavior to only be performed when you give a command. You can correct the dog with prong collars, or if properly trained, an e-collar correction. Bark collars are also a great tool and are far from inhumane, Jaime says.

“I recommend teaching “SPEAK” and then using smaller corrections with prong or e-collar first, then using the bark collar. It is much easier to understand when they’ve been introduced to low level corrections via prong and manual e collar as the barking collar will increase correction automatically for continued barking,” he says. “Because we’ve already shown why the dog is being corrected, the bark collar correction will not be associated as nearly a severe of punishment.”


Biting is another issue dog owners are concerned about. Dogs often bite because they are protective or possessive. If he or she doesn’t like someone or something near them, they’re liable to snap. Dogs also bite out of fear. Other dogs, nefarious-looking people, and more can spook dogs, causing them to attack. You may notice that your dog gets more liberal with his or her jaws as they grow older. Any sort of medical condition or pain can make dogs irritable and likely to bite. Female dogs have maternal instincts that may cause them to get aggressive, too. Whatever the case may be for your dog, here are some tips to help train your dog to be less mouthy:

  • Spay or neuter your dog. This will almost always make them less aggressive.
  • Exercise and play with your dog in a fun and friendly way. Doing this will help to build rapport. The relationship between the dog and humans will benefit from frequent play and exercise.
  • Do your best to eliminate anxious situations for your dog. If you commonly walk by a house with a loud, snarly dog, find a new route. Avoid anxiety and your dog will likely calm down. If you know of a “place” in your walk that your dog typically go bananas, it’s a great idea to avoid the craziness.
  • Don’t try to socialize too much, too fast. Too many stressors, sniffers, and unfamiliarities can bring out that anxiety that turns to aggressiveness. There’s a balance you’ve got to achieve and when you find it, things will get better.

For most other common misbehavior problems (dogs going where they shouldn’t, walking you instead of you doing the walking) can be improved or fixed with a little practice and reinforcement. Take a class at the Humane Society. Hire a local trainer to give you some basics or even an advanced regimen to follow.

Like you, dogs need a little time to change their behavior. Be patient, be understanding and be vigilant. And using the tips we’ve got all over our training section, you’ll grow as a trainer and dog parent.

Thanks to Urgent Pet Care for sponsoring this content during National Train Your Dog Month!


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