Managing Problem Behaviours
Living with a dog who is behaving in ways you don’t like can be challenging! This is true whether the behaviour is relatively benign, such as pulling on the lead on walks, or a more serious issue, such as lunging and barking at other dogs.
In almost all cases, there are some simple strategies that you can implement right away to make life easier. These can be short term, while you seek help from a qualified dog trainer, or they could be kept in place long term if they are effective at making life easier for both you and your dog.
Management strategies include any changes you can make to the environment to reduce the likelihood that the problem behaviour will occur. Think of these changes like puppy-proofing or setting the stage for your dog to be more successful.
Even if you are working hard to change the problem behaviour, management strategies are a great way to prevent your pet from practising the problem behaviour while they learn new skills.
Below we’ve outlined some common behaviour problems that we work with, and the management strategy we recommend to reduce the problem while you seek help with training.
Problem: Dog is barking at foot traffic past the fence.
Management strategy: Restrict dog’s access to that part of the yard, or fix weed mat or tarp to the fence to block the view.
Problem: Dog lunges and barks at other dogs on walks.
Management strategy: Stick to quiet locations or times of the day when you are less likely to encounter other dog walkers. This could mean driving to a nearby park or oval, rather than walking in your suburb.
Problem: Dog doesn’t come back when off-lead at the park or beach.
Management strategy: Use a 10m long lead to provide your dog with some freedom at the park or beach without risking their running off.
Problem: Dog is chewing on furniture or other items in the yard.
Management strategy: Keep off-limit objects out of reach. Set up puppy pens to block access to furniture and other large items that can’t be moved. Provide alternative opportunities for your dog to engage in chewing behaviour (e.g. toys, long-lasting chews, whole coconuts).
Problem: Dog is jumping on visitors to the house.
Management strategy: Keep your dog outside until visitors have been welcomed inside and are sitting down/settled in the house. Put your dog on-lead to prevent them from jumping on visitors.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of every problem behaviour, but rather an example of some common behaviour problems and some suggestions for how you can limit your dog’s opportunities to practice them in the short term, while you seek help in solving the problem long term.