Help! My dog is out of control!

     You’ve always wanted a dog. You went to the shelter “just to look” and found the one that melted your heart. Now he’s part of your family and daily routine, but…he’s out of control! He won’t listen when you say “no”, he pulls on the leash, and he won’t come when you call him.

First, you’re probably exasperated, but you’re certainly not alone. For many of us, our canine companions occupy a huge part of not only our hearts but also our homes. Sometimes, it can be difficult to teach dogs how to respect their owners, their furniture, as well as other dogs.

 

Here are some tips for getting started:

 

  1.  Exercise. A tired dog is a good dog, meaning that burning lots of energy is a great way to lower anxiety and promote calm behavior. Find a fenced area (yard, dog park) and encourage running and sprinting; fetching a ball is great for this. Taking your pet on long walks or hikes, especially to new and different places, can be more exciting and interesting for both of you.

 

  1.  Go Back to the Basics. Spend 10-15 minutes per day with your dog working on basic commands like sit, down and stay. Keep him on leash in a place with few distractions. Have lots of tiny soft treats in your pocket. When he responds correctly, praise him and give him a treat within one second. Basic obedience classes are great for getting started with this, and also for getting your dog used to being around other dogs.

 

  1.  Create Boundaries. Every dog needs to know what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Try to resist the urge to let dogs jump on you or other people, or to jump on all of your furniture. Your dog will then think that HE makes the rules, and he’ll be much less likely to pay attention when you try to correct him.

 

The goal is to be a “gentle leader” for your dog, not his dominant ruler. Speaking harshly or striking your dog inspires fear, and will prevent him from learning how to be a calm, relaxed pet that you can take almost anywhere. There is a reason that dogs have been called man’s best friend….and the more you work and play together, the better friends you’ll be.