What to do if Your Dog Starts Slipping Back into Old Habits
18th September 2017
You’ve spent a lot of time and effort training your dog to behave appropriately, but after a while, you begin to notice your pet slipping back into bad habits. It’s a common scenario, but thankfully, not as difficult to rectify as you might think. Here’s what to do if your dog starts slipping back into old habits.
Look at your own behaviours
Are you falling into bad habits alongside your dog? Maybe you’ve been slipping your dog the occasional treat from your plate at dinnertime, encouraging your pet to jump up, allow him to lead on a walk, or enter doors ahead of you. Take a look at how you’ve been treating your dog and chances are that you are at least part of the problem. Address your own bad habits, and your dog will happily follow suit.
Look to see if there have been changes in your dog’s life
Many times, dogs revert back to bad habits out of stress. Have you brought home a new pet or a new member of the family? Has a member of our family left home? Is there renovation work going on nearby? Nail guns upset many dogs. Has your dog been in a boarding kennel or at a friend’s place while you went on holiday? The slightest changes in our dog’s environment can upset them very quickly. This could make your pet feel threatened and cause them to ‘act out’ in order to feel more dominant or in control of their environment.
Have you stopped rewarding good behaviour?
While actively learning, dogs are encouraged and rewarded with praise. This reinforces what behaviours you want from them. But what happens if the praise stops when your dog is trying to understand what you want in order to make the right choice? Your pet may not understand how to please you and may make some wrong decisions.
Has your dog actually learned what you want from him?
Your dog may have mastered the ‘sit/stay’ commands and can perform them consistently in many situations. Using this command is sometimes used to control or distract from what you really want your dog to learn.
For example, if your dog sits and stays while you fill his food bowl, it doesn’t teach him not to touch his food until you say it’s OK. If your dog obeys commands to sit when someone comes to the door or walks up to him, it doesn’t mean he knows that jumping up on people is a mistake. He is learning how to sit & stay, not learning what his mistakes are.
For more dog training tips: http://www.barkbusters.co.nz/dog-training-tips/1