Frequently Asked Canine Behavior Questions

Finding answers to common canine behavior problems is an important step in dog training. Often, a misunderstanding of canine behavior causes owners to inadvertently contribute to the problem.

1. Why Does My Dog Keep Jumping?

If you punish your dog and the behavior continues, the punishment is rewarding to your dog. If you yell at your dog when he jumps, you are still looking at and talking to him. If you push him off or knee him, you are still touching him. These are all rewards.

To solve the problem, remove all attention. Don't look at, talk to or touch your dog. Walk in the house and don't pay any attention until all four feet are on the ground. Then, pet and praise him. If he starts to jump again at that point, stand up and walk away. If your dog nips, go in another room and close the door.

2. Why Does My Dog Bark?

There are lots of answers to this question. Most dogs are barking because they are anxious and fearful. Thus, if you correct with punishment, the reaction will usually get worse. Instead, use rewards to make your dog more comfortable with the things he fears.

Some dogs are territorial, which is instinctual. To fix this problem, you can put a "no bark" on command, but you will probably never get rid of the barking completely.

Other dogs bark for attention. If you yell at them or pick them up to try to calm them down, you are rewarding the behavior, and it will continue. To eliminate this behavior, put in your headphones, leave the room and ignore it. Give your dog attention as soon as the barking stops.

3. How Do I Stop Pulling?

Pulling is a self-rewarding behavior. If your dog pulls you to something and gets to smell it, there's no reason for him to stop. He always gets what he wants when he does it.

To solve pulling problems, change what pulling means to the dog. As soon as the leash gets tight, stop walking. Stand there until your dog voluntarily makes the leash loose by looking at you or backing up. Do not tug him. As soon as the leash is loose, say "good" and start walking. If the leash gets tight again, stop.

Spend your normal walk time practicing this, and it will get better each day. A front-hook harness, such as the Easy Walk, can also help.

4. Why Is My Dog Not Potty Trained?

Your dog is not peeing on the floor because he wants revenge. He doesn't know he's not allowed to go there. Proper potty training requires constant supervision so you can see the signals and hurry him to the area he is allowed to relieve himself. If you cannot supervise your dog, he needs to be confined to a crate or small X pen until he is potty trained.

Punishing him after the fact will not work. Your dog does not remember peeing hours earlier. If he's "acting guilty," it's because he's acting fearful of your angry body language, not because he's actually feeling guilt.

Understanding dog behavior can help you solve common behavior problems around your home. Usually, we are rewarding behaviors without realizing it. Changing your response can make a big difference.