Step two of stopping unwanted dog behavior: Prevent unwanted dog behavior
- You need to either prevent or ignore the unwanted behavior.
- You cannot stop the unwanted behavior if your dog is allowed to do whatever he wants.
- Behaviors you ignore are things like barking at you for dinner, mouthing on you, or begging at the table.
- Behaviors you prevent are access to inappropriate chewing objects, barking at the door, and stealing food from the table.
Does ignoring work to stop the unwanted behavior?
Your dog has started to engage in the unwanted behavior, such as stealing food, getting into the trash or barking at you through the bathroom door to get your attention. This behavior can be annoying and disrupting to your lives, thus need to be addressed. With unwanted behaviors, you need to make sure that your dog can’t do the unwanted behavior. If your dog is allowed to do something, even once, he will continue doing that. Whatever gets him what he is after, he will repeat the behavior over and over. In some cases, you might want to ignore the behavior if you cannot prevent it. Here are some examples:
- Stop Jumping at people: stand on the leash so he literally can’t get feet off the ground, have him go to his bed so he is away from the people.
- Stop barking for attention: you have to ignore it until he stops. You can’t even give a command in this one, because he wants your attention and he does not care what kind of attention.
- Stop begging at the table: send him to another room so he literally cannot see the table and thus can’t beg.
- Stop puppy chewing: put away anything you don’t want the puppy to chew on.
- Stop leash pulling: do not move. If you continue going forward while he is pulling you allow him to pull if you just stand there, he has no choice but to eventually stop pulling and come to you.
Is ignoring always the right answer?
I do want to caution against ignoring all unwanted behavior. If your dog is acting up out of fear or anxiety, he actually needs help from you or a professional trainer or behaviorist.
- Excessive barking: your dog could be in pain and trying to let you know.
- Chewing: your dog could have a tummy upset and is trying to eat things to help him comfort himself. Some chewing is a result of neurological disorders like Pica.
- Jumping up: your dog could be afraid of a noise or not feeling good and is trying to get you to comfort him or her.
- Biting you when being handled: perhaps it hurts him when you touch him there.
Know your dog so that you can tell when they need more from you or if they are just acting up.