The book, “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones“ by James Clear, showed the importance of the habits that human beings possess to how we are as a person.
Habits are not simply the things that we do often, but they are a result of the choices we make daily and speak a lot about our personality and upbringing.
Like humans, dogs can pick up some bad habits as they grow. Lucky for us, it’s easier to break a dog’s unwanted behavior than change our own. Dogs learn by association. They are bound to repeat an action that is rewarded.
This makes it easier for dog parents to train and develop a dog’s good habits and change the bad habits that are counterproductive for dogs living in a domestic human environment.
To break a dog’s bad habit, make sure that they only get a reward when they do the opposite. Below are five of the most common bad dog habits—and how to break them.
1. Destructive Chewing
Chewing, especially in puppies, is not a bad thing. Dogs chew on things to release some pent up energy. Not only that, it keeps their teeth and gums in good shape.
But to everyone’s annoyance, dogs often chew inappropriately—destroying plants, cushions, and shoes in their paths. Your dogs must learn what objects are meant for chewing and what is not.
Instead of punishing them for inappropriate chewing, give them chew toys and treats to distract them. Practice positive reinforcement, every time they choose to chew on their toys instead of household objects, by praising them or giving small treats.
Dogs will definitely appreciate the good lesson of learning not to destroy their home which they share with their beloved dog parents, they do not chew cushions to annoy their dog parents, but they do it because of their animal instincts and to also relieve some stress.
Chew toys are definitely the way to go.
2. Begging for Food
We know those puppy dog eyes are hard to resist, but if your dog is constantly begging for food in the table, you probably have reinforced that behavior in the past.
As hard as it is, you must be consistent not to feed them while you’re at the dinner table or snacking in front of the TV.
Over time, your dog will learn that begging will not give them what they want and will stop the unwanted behavior.
You may also train your dog to stay in his bed while you’re eating or plan his meal around your own, so that he will be busy chowing from his bowl while you’re busy eating on your plate.
Eating on their own should be developed as a dog grows up, this, not only helps them become independent but can also help them grow better in a group setting, where there is another dog in your home.
Dogs love to spend quality time with their dog parents but as the master and leader, the dog parent should establish rules and boundaries in order to make the relationship more efficient and friendly.
And to also allow the dog to fully adapt to domestic life and a possible environment where there are more than one people eating in the dining table
3. Running in a Frenzy in Anticipation of Walks
Most dogs love going for walks that a mere site of their owner touching their leash on the wall drives them crazy. Does your dog run and jump around when they sense that you are about to take them out?
This habit is not the hardest to break if you are consistent. Though it warms our heart seeing our dog happy and excited, some dogs react excessively that it becomes harder to attach a harness or leash to them.
To curb this behavior, you must break the association they’ve adapted between the leash and your daily walks.
Do this by touching their leash a few times a day even when you’re not going out for a walk. They will eventually learn that you holding the leash doesn’t always mean going to the dog park.
Association is a core part of the classic operant conditioning, which is a famous psychological experiment done on dogs. Dogs are one of the smartest animals who learn to recognize these patterns in the behavior of human beings.
They can do the opposite which is to learn when a certain behavior no longer results in the action that they expected before. Teaching a dog can also help dog parents learn a thing or two about their own behavior.
Like how a child is raised, dogs learn things that are present in the environment where they grew up in. Walking a dog is an important event that they do not wish to forget.
Digging is one of the most annoying habits for dog owners. Thought it’s a perfectly normal behavior for canine animals, it’s never cool if they’re being destructive, or if they end up harming themselves. The key is to learn why your dog is digging.
Some dogs dig to look for a comfortable place on a hot or cold weather, some look for small preys, such as lizard, rabbits, and mice.
Stop this behavior by addressing the root cause of the behavior. Provide a comfortable place inside the house or distract them with toys and treats. If they simply love to dig, assign a place in the backyard where they are allowed to dig.
The behavior of dogs is not unwarranted, it is best to investigate first as a dog parent, instead of punishing your dog right away.
Digging is a behavior or habit that to dogs is very reasonable, it helps them survive if they are in a forest or an environment without human beings.
Therefore, as dog parents, we should patiently observe and then teach our dogs how to best inform us if they feel hot or cold or if they would like some snacks.
5. Pulling on the Leash
Leash pulling is a common problem that most of us experience when we walk our dogs out; it is also one of the hardest to curb.
To train your dog to stop pulling the leash, equip them with a harness instead of a standard collar. This will keep the pressure away from their sensitive throat and distribute the pressure evenly around the body.
If your dog starts to pull, stop from moving forward. If they don’t relax, move to the opposite direction. Do this repeatedly until they learn that pulling will not get them to where they want to go and that they need to stop pulling to move forward.
This can also mean that your dog is excited because you did not walk them for a while, it is best to spend more time with your dog and enjoy more outside activities with them.
Not all dog breeds are the same but if your dog is one of the breeds that enjoy walking and spending time under the sun, as a responsible dog parent it is your job to provide these activities;
And in turn create unforgettable memories with your dog which help them learn correct behavior and make them happier and more loved.
Habits are not unlearned in just a few hours, it takes time. Be patient with your dog, because like us they are not intentionally doing bad things out of negative emotions, but it is what they learned and observed in their environment.
Understanding is one of the best tools for changing the habits and behavior of our beloved dogs. Let us learn how to understand the bad habits of our dogs and help change them for the better by changing the triggers of this behavior.
Dogs love us without conditions, mutually, this should be how we love them too!
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