Breaking a Dogs Bad Habit

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Ok, I am the dog guy so I am going to post an email a recieved from my website and my reply about how to break a dogs bad habit.

Hi Stefan,

My husband and I and 3 kids currently own two dogs, one of which is an adorable 12 month old English Staffy. We got her from Florida when she was 6 months old and just love her to death! My husband had done lots of research on the internet and really wanted this type of dog because they are so great with kids, which has proven to be so true with “Haley”. She gets along great with our 2 year old lab/pitbull mix too. My only problem I seem to be having with her is she chews on the wood outside our home, our columns outside have taken a beating from her! Do staffies ever get over their teething phase or is this something you think we’ll just have to live with and just always give her something to keep her jaws busy and away from it. I’ve been trying to find out more info. about staffies on the web but haven’t seen anything about their chewing habits. Any info. or tips you can give me would be so helpful! Thanks

Michelle

Hello Michelle,

I have to admit, I have become that weird dog guy, and I owe it all to my staffy (Monkey)!

I am far from Cesar Millan but definitely have had great results from my training with Monkey. I will offer some advice and I hope it helps you with your dogs bad habbit.

1. Dogs chew up to 18 months old because of teething and it just feels good for them.
2. Dogs chew because they are bored
3. Dogs are destructive because the have anxiety…usually because the aren’t exercised enough.

For me, the only way I can break Monkey from bad habits is to actually catch her in the act of doing something wrong. When I catch her, I would physically punish her, but like a pack leader, not a spanking. I “correct” her by catching her in the act of a “wrongdoing” by lowering my voice/putting a very angry expression (drama class paid off!) on my face and approaching her with an aggressive posture and bellowing her “NO” command. This triggers her submissive cowering (a natural dog behavior if they are not the pack leader). At this point I push my weight onto the side of her neck and gently pin her to the ground with one hand and immobilize her back hip with my other hand. I make eye contact with her all the while and repeat in a low voice, “NO.”

Now I know you probably know this already, but you can’t punish your pup after the fact. You need to catch them in the act. For me, this meant hanging in my home office one day and waiting for Monkey to dig. It took catching her in the act 4 times and now she understand she is NOT ALLOWED TO DIG IN THE YARD!

So…in outline form:
1. Catch her chewing and punish her
2. Give her something she is allowed to chew on afterwards: http://www.nylabone.com/
a. I think Nylabones are the best because they have no nutritional value and won’t spoil appetites or give them gas.
3. Reward her with praise (not treats) every time you see her pick up and chew on her bone.

I honestly think that you will always have to have chew toys around for you English Staffy. She has strong jaws and needs to exercise them, just not on the house!

Check out this book: How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend: A Training Manual for Dog Owners

I hope this was helpful.
Stefan

Well, I hope this helps someone break their dogs bad habit.

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