Leash Training a Puppy: How to Leash Train a Puppy or Dog
How to Stop Your Dog from Misbehaving Dangerously
Some dogs display behavioral problems like aggression. These types of problems are dangerous, as they can lead to confrontations with other dogs and with humans. If your dog displays any indication of dangerous behavior, such as barking, lunging, growling, snapping, or biting, you'll need to correct that behavior as quickly as possible. You can train your dog out of this behavior by changing the way you walk your dog, attending obedience training, and working with a veterinary professional.
Correcting Dangerous Behavior On-Leash
Try using a restrictive harness.If your dog is behaving dangerously, you'll need to use proper restraining equipment. These devices can be used on walks as well as around the house - just don't leave your dog unsupervised while wearing a leash, harness, or muzzle, as this may lead to injury.
- Using a head halter may be more effective than a regular collar. The head halter restricts your dog's ability to move and lunge while on the leash.
- If your dog has ever bitten someone, you should have your dog wear a basket muzzle when it's around other people or animals.
- Whether you use a muzzle or a head halter, make sure it is properly fitted to your dog's face. This will help prevent injuries to your dog and reduce the chances of your dog slipping free.
Keep a short leash.Any time you're out walking your dog, you may run into someone or something that elicits a dangerous or aggressive response. You can help reduce the risk of incidence by shortening your dog's leash when you approach other people or animals.
- A leash should be worn at all times when your dog is outside your home.
- If you see anything that you know may upset your dog, like a runner, bicyclist, skater, or another dog, pull your dog in close and hold the leash as short as possible.
Hold your dog's attention.In addition to holding a short leash, holding your dog's attention is one of the best ways you can help reduce the risk of incidence on walks. It may take some training, but eventually your dog will focus on you - and on the treat in your hand.
- Use a verbal cue, such as "watch me," "leave it," or "sit and stay."
- Use your cue consistently with your dog so it knows what you expect.
- If you use a clicker for training purposes, you can utilize that tool while trying to hold your dog's attention.
- Bring plenty of treats on your walks. Any time your dog gets upset, offer treats as a reward for good behavior when your dog responds to your commands.
Limit opportunities for territorial aggression.The best way to train your dog out of territorial aggression is by limiting its opportunities in the first place. Your dog may display territorial aggression to people or vehicles approaching your home because it sees these people and things as a threat. By removing your dog's opportunity to bark or growl, you can help break your dog of this potentially dangerous habit.
- Block your dog's access to windows or keep them covered with curtains or blinds.
- Don't let your dog near the door when someone (like the mail carrier) approaches. Try to drown out the sound of an approaching person with music or by distract your dog with treats and toys.
- If you go outside in your yard, keep your dog on a leash and stay with your pet to supervise it.
Give your dog more exercise.Getting adequate exercise each day can help reduce aggression and other behavioral problems in many dogs. Though this may not completely fix your pet's problems, for many dogs it noticeably reduces incidences of aggression and misbehavior.
- Aim to get 45 to 60 minutes of brisk exercise twice each day. Your dog should be panting by the end of each exercise session.
- You can give your dog exercise by playing catch, throwing a frisbee, going jogging or running, going hiking, or taking your dog swimming.
- Don't start out with long, strenuous workout sessions if your dog isn't used to it. Start slowly and build to the twice-daily 45 to 60 minutes gradually over several weeks.
Using Behavioral Training
Work with a specialist.Professional training is the best way to break bad or dangerous behavior problems. There are many training options available for dog owners. Ask your vet or search online to find out about training opportunities near you.
- You can hire a trainer to work one-on-one with your dog, or you can enroll in a group class. A trainer can give individualized attention, while a group class improves your dog's social abilities.
- Choose a trainer or class that employs positive reinforcement-based training methods. These will help your dog develop consistently better behavior.
- If your dog continues to have aggression problems, hire a canine behavioral specialist. This type of trainer will work with your dog to curb this undesirable behavior.
Teach "sit" and "stay" commands.Two of the most useful commands for a dog to learn are "sit" and "stay." These commands, when used properly, can prevent displays of aggression and stop bad behavior in its tracks.
- Have your dog sit. If your dog hasn't learned the sit command yet, you can help teach it by gently pushing your dog's rear end to the floor while calmly but firmly saying "sit."
- Once your dog sits on command, give it treats and verbal praise.
- Give the command "stay" while slowly taking a few steps back from your dog. You may have to repeat the command with each step, or once may be enough, depending on your dog.
- If your dog moves before you release it, go back to where you were and start over. If your dog obeys, break the hold by saying "good dog" or "okay, come" and offer treats and verbal praise.
Use the "leave it" command."Leave it" is just as valuable as "sit" and "stay" when breaking bad behavior. By teaching "leave it," you can prevent your dog from approaching other animals or from going after another dog's food or toys, which may otherwise lead to conflict.
- Hold some treats in your closed fist and show your hand to your dog, keeping the treats hidden in your palm. Allow your dog to sniff and lick your hand, but don't give access to the treats.
- As soon as your dog discontinues its efforts to get the treats in your hand, say "good dog" and offer a treat from a separate location (say, a bag in your pocket or on the counter). Never give the treats in your hand that were off limits.
- Once your dog starts to resist the urge to sniff and lick your treat hand, start using the verbal command "leave it" before you show your closed hand to the dog.
- Gradually increase the difficulty after a week or two by showing your dog your opened hand full of treats and using the "leave it" command. Quickly close your hand if your dog lunges for the treats and start over.
- Once your dog masters the "leave it" command with a closed hand, begin leaving the treats on the floor and using "leave it," then offer treats from your pocket or the counter. Again, never give the restricted treats, as this can ruin your training.
Try to desensitize your dog.Once you've determined what your dog reacts dangerously towards (like bicyclists, for example), you can begin to desensitize your dog to that stimulus. Start out slowly and work from a safe distance away, then gradually get closer every training session. Eventually, your dog should realize that the person or thing it's frightened of or aggressive towards is not a threat.
- Give your dog a series of treats in rapid succession while you approach the frightening stimulus or any time it is in plain view. The treats should be given continuously to hold your dog's attention and its good mood.
- Stop giving treats immediately after you've moved away from the person or object your dog is aggressive towards.
- Keep your dog on a leash during this type of training to prevent any risk of injury to the other person or people your dog is showing aggression and fear towards.
Train against possessive aggression.Possessive aggression is when a dog displays aggressive behavior towards people or animals that get close to something the dog wants. This most commonly happens with food and treats, but it can happen with other items like a dog bed or even a piece of furniture.
- Limit your dog's access to items it might get possessive of. You can do this by blocking off certain areas of your home or by hiding these objects out of reach.
- If your dog is possessive and aggressive over toys or treats, remove your dog's access to those items. Only give access when your dog is in its crate (if you use one) or a confinement room alone with you.
- Keep your dog on a leash during training. Work on offering food rewards as you take possession of the item(s) your dog gets protective of, speak in a calm but confident voice, and pet your dog while you take the desirable item(s).
- Restrict all access to highly-desirable items like rawhide bones and pig's ears, at least during your initial training. These items are more likely to provoke an aggressive response.
Exploring Medical Options
Communicate with your vet.If your dog has displayed behavioral problems that could be dangerous, it's important that you talk to your veterinarian. Your vet may run tests to see if your dog is otherwise healthy. Your vet can also recommend behavioral and medical options that might help improve your dog's behavior.
- Contact your vet once you've witnessed your dog misbehave dangerously more than once. The first time could be an anomaly, but a second incident is likely the start of a pattern.
- Describe your dog's behavior in meticulous detail. Try to remember the exact situation and circumstances in which each incident occurred.
- Ask your vet questions about your dog's behavior. Your vet may have recommendations, so letting the vet know that you're open to suggestions can help expedite your dog's treatment.
Spay or neuter your dog.Spaying and neutering dogs has been shown to reduce aggressive behavior, including on-leash lunging, mouthing/nipping, and biting. Neutering a male dog will also prevent it from trying to escape your home to seek out a mate, which is a major cause of dog injuries due to collisions with vehicles and other dogs.
- Ask your vet if spaying or neutering your dog may help curb your pet's behavioral problems.
Check for underlying medical problems.Sometimes the reason a dog misbehaves dangerously is because the dog is in pain or is fearful of a medical condition it has. Your vet is the only person who can definitively determine if this is the case, usually through blood work, a chemistry panel, or a thyroid test during your dog's examination.Some common medical problems that can lead to aggressive behavior include, but are not limited to:
- hip dysplasia
- dental disease
Consider medication.Medication for behavioral problems should always be viewed as a last resort when training alone hasn't worked. However, medication by itself will not be as effective. In order to correct your dog's behavioral problems, you'll need to continue working on behavioral training, even as you administer medication from your vet.
Video: How to Correct your Dog's BAD Behavior!
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