Why Do Dogs Misbehave?

Actually, dogs don’t really misbehave. To them, no matter what they do, it isn’t wrong — it’s just dog behavior. Dogs only do what works for them! If your dog jumps on you (and other people), it’s because they want your attention. Even if you knee them in the chest (not recommended!), or push them off of you, or you holler at them for jumping – They’ve still gotten your attention!

How about when your dog steals your socks or some piece of laundry you’ve left on the floor or in your laundry basket? You watch him chasing around the house with the socks, or he hides under the table with his booty. What do you do? You chase after him attempting to get the stolen item back, right? How clever your dog is! He’s gotten you to play a very fun game with him, and he got your attention again. Take the dog that barks at us constantly until we acknowledge him, or we play with him, or we scream at him. What’s this dog trying to accomplish by barking in our faces? He wants our attention!

Does your protection dog bark like a nut when your mailman comes to your door? Does he go crazy if the UPS driver pulls up to your house to deliver a package? Well…your dog has learned that every time these guys show up, he barks and they leave. Wow, that works, right?

Keep in mind that when your dog has developed a behavior that you don’t like, there is always something or someone reinforcing that behavior to make it work for him.

So …how do we teach our dogs to behave better? We teach them alternative or incompatible behaviors. We make the new behaviors more rewarding than the ones we’re trying to extinguish. That’s it in a nutshell, folks.

To increase a behavior – reward it!

To decrease a behavior – reward a new and desirable behavior!

© Renee Premaza, 2009