My dog training background is extensive and spans two different careers. I first began working as a police canine handler and trainer, and started Adams K-9 when I retired from the force. I have used my system to train proper dog behavior to all breeds, ages, and backgrounds and know how successful it can be.
After working with countless families to help them reach the point of living in harmony with a well-behaved dog, I am well-versed in addressing the most common behavioral complaints people have. Here are the 12 issues we help fix on a regular basis.
- Chewing – Chewing is an issue most notable with young dogs. They chew molding, carpet or furniture. If you have a young dog, re-direct to something appropriate for them to put their mouth on. There are numerous dogs toys and chews on the market. Give your dog a variety to choose from. Keep your young pups on a leash and the leash attached to you so you can keep an eye on them- dogs earn their freedom. Until your pup is potty trained and finished chewing, you must supervise them. Keep your dog within eyesight by tethering them to furniture or yourself. You cannot have a teaching moment if you do not interrupt the pup as it is happening. My go-to method of interrupting pups is a quick squirt of water in the face using a plastic spray bottle and then redirecting to an appropriate toy.
- Digging – Digging is one dog behavior done for fun or out of boredom. Lack of exercise and interactive toys can be the source for digging. How much exercise does a dog need? It varies by dog, but the easy answer is as much as is necessary. A daily half hour walk is good for starters. Make rules for the walk as well. The dog should have heads up walking with no sniffing or leash pulling. The walk should be work for the dog. Make the dog think by having rules for the walk. Making the dog think and work will tire them more than just the exercise alone. Sometimes dogs dig to get at rodents. I once had a dog that would dig and catch shrews. She would bring each one up to the house, so proud of her catch. If this is your case, rid your yard of the rodents and the digging will go away. Sometimes dogs may dig because they are hot. They dig a hole to lay in to cool down. Make sure your dog has a cool place to relax when outdoors.
- Biting – Dogs naturally bite their litter mates and play bite when playing with other dogs. Dogs must be taught they are not allowed to put their mouths on people. You need to communicate to the dog that it hurts. Screaming “ouch” and “No Bite” doesn’t work, if anything it excites the dog to bite again. Prey, when killed, screams. Due to the predatory nature of dogs, running and screaming excites the dog to chase and bite. To stop biting you need to put pressure on the dog and make it uncomfortable for them to bite. You can slap their nose, squirt them with water, grab their scruff or curl their lip over their teeth. Once corrected, re-direct the dog to something they are supposed to put their mouth on, like a dog toy. I like to tie a line to a dog’s stuffed animal toy and drag it away from the dog. This elicits prey drive and the pup will chase, catch, bite and play tug. It’s a great interactive toy to safely play with your pup and teach them the appropriate way to chase and bite things.
- Jumping – Jumping is a very common issue with dog behavior we see at our training facility. Dogs jump on people because they want attention. All dogs, even little ones, should learn not to jump on people. Dogs can knock children and the elderly down and let’s face it, not everyone likes dogs. All dogs should have manners and learn not to jump on people. There is also something I call counter surfing. Dogs should learn to keep their paws off the counters and furniture as well. When a dog jumps do not give affection: no petting, no, eye contact, no talking. People will say no and push their dog away trying to teach them not to jump but what the dog is getting is attention. Sometimes dogs interpret a correction as a positive thing and that is why they jump. I have had people come into our training facility and they already hired a trainer that instructed them to turn their back on the dog and fold their arms, basically ignoring the dog. I ask, “How is that working for you?” They say, “It’s not!” You need to make it uncomfortable to the dog when they jump. Dogs do what pleases them and avoid what is unpleasant. I used to prefer keeping a leash on the dog and correcting the dog down with the leash when they jump. Now I specialize in Remote Collar Training and I use the collar to create pressure so the dog learns not to jump. It works great, and within a couple of days at our training facility the dog behavior can vastly improve.
- Nuisance Barking – If you have a dog that barks a lot, buy yourself a Dogtra No Bark Collar. They work because they are consistent and you set the level. Start at the lowest level. If your dog barks through it, keep turning it up until you find the right level. Your dog will stop barking and another behavior you will see change is the dog will calm down. They will learn to ignore the distractions that made him bark in the first place. I have actually had many people say their dog seems happier and less stressed once they stopped barking. I have also had a few people tell me it makes their dog sad and they go and lay down. It makes me laugh that instead of a dog that goes and lays down so your company can have a peaceful visit with you, they have to listen to your dogs bark every time someone walks by the house because you don’t want your dog to be sad. Not to mention the neighbors that are sick of listening to your dogs barking. Good grief!
- Leash Pulling – A lot of dogs leash pull. I see it every day where I am. Retractable leashes and harnesses teach dogs to pull- if you have either of these items get rid of them. Dogs should be taught to walk next to you. I recently flew out to Arizona and saw several very nice heeling dogs in the airport, under control and walking nice. It’s not brain surgery to be able to teach your dog to walk on a leash without pulling. There are a variety of training collars on the market. Find one you like and fit it snuggly on your dog with it high right behind the ears. Start walking and give your dog about five feet of leash. The dog will start forging ahead. When this happens, make an about turn and start walking the other way. The dog will self-correct and turn to start following, but he will again get ahead. Do another about turn and go the other way. We want the dog to start paying attention to you. When the dog starts turning with you without running out of leash you have a dog with focus who is heeling on a loose leash. Now you can go on your walk. If you are struggling, hire a trainer to help you. You will be glad you did.
- Coprophagia – Also known as eating poop, this is a disgusting habit, at least to us humans. I really don’t think the experts know why dogs eat poop. Some believe it’s a nutritional delinquency of vitamin B or the dogs eat stool to replenish enzymes to help digest their food. I own two dogs of the same breed that eat the same food and one is a poop eater and the other is not. The one that eats poop doesn’t do it often. Correcting the dog using a remote collar doesn’t work because you cannot be consistent. This is punishment, and punishment with lack of consistency will not change the behavior. There are products on the market you can buy at most pet stores that you either give them as treats or add to their food that will make their stool unappealing and they will stop eating it.
- Charging Through an Open Door – Dogs should be taught to wait at an open door and follow the human. The human first, dog second rule helps establish leadership and teaches the dog to follow. In addition, dogs escaping out an open door can be injured by running into traffic. If your dog charges the door or jockeys for position, teach them to sit about 4-5 feet from the door. The dog doesn’t get to choose the position or the distance from the door, you do. Keep a leash on your dog and reinforce a sit/stay. Open and close the door. Reward the dog for staying with a treat, praise or play.
- Separation Anxiety – Some dogs struggle when you leave them. They destroy things, and some even self-harm. Crate train your dog. Don’t make a big deal when you leave or when you come home. Ignore the dog before leaving and ignore the dog when you get home. When I come home, the first thing I always do is let my dogs outdoors to empty out. I see a lot of people that dote on their dogs. This makes me crazy because people do this for their own gratification. Doting does nothing for the dog expect encourage pushiness, nervousness and issues with separation anxiety. Dogs that lack confidence are doted on. If you own a dog that is causing issues when you leave, seek help from a behaviorist. A veterinarian maybe able to prescribe valium-type medication that can help. Plenty of exercise and a training routine can also help.
- Recall – Not coming when called is a common issue we see in dogs. Dogs won’t come because something outdoors is a lot more interesting than coming to you. Keep a long line of 15 – 20 feet on your dog. Let them drag the line when outdoors. You can prevent the dog from running from you by stepping on the line. The line is to teach the dog the correct direction to go when you say let’s go or come. Give the dog a reward to obeying. You need to be married to that line until you have a solid recall.
- Resource Guarding – AKA Possessive Aggression. This is when the dog growls and will bite you over any item they perceive to have high value. I once worked with a Rottweiler that would bite his owner over a tissue he got out of the trash. Dogs that are food aggressive always have the same story told by their owners. The owners try to avoid food aggression by putting their hands in the food and taking the food away when the dog is eating. Listen, If I put my hands all over your food while you ate, how would that make your feel? How about you are enjoying a wonderful steak in a restaurant and the waiter pulls the plate away from you. Get the point? I have never owned a food aggressive dog. I believe it’s because when I put the bowl down I walk away and leave dog the dog alone to eat in peace. If I ever walk up to the bowl its always to add some chicken or beef. The dog learns when someone approaches their bowl it’s to add something not to take it away. For resource guarding, it’s best to leave to the professional. I teach the dog to drop it and walk away from whatever they have. They are rewarded for this behavior with a tasty treat or a favorite toy- something different thaty they also perceive as high value. Remember, if you get into a fight with a dog over an item you are going to lose.
- Reactivity – AKA Aggression. This one is a bummer to have to deal with. Everyone’s dream dog is a happy, go-lucky dog that loves everybody and everything: humans, dogs and little bunny rabbits. In reality, not all dogs come with a happy go-lucky attitude. Aggression could be fear, dominance, territorial or prey driven. It really doesn’t matter the inlying reason for the reactivity the important thing is that you get it under control and manage it. If you don’t, the dog is going to end up getting euthanized. If you have a dog that has these issues seek professional help and don’t wait. The earlier in the dog’s life you address it the better.
In our training facility we typically see high energy, pushy dogs. If you have one of these dogs please come and see us. I have built our training system off years of professional experience, and we have an entire team passionate about helping your dog become a calm, well-behaved member of the family.