How to Retrain a Dog That Has Bad Habits

An old dog can indeed learn new tricks.

If your dog seems to be regressing with his or her learned tricks or behavior, or you’ve just gotten a new pet and their demeanor isn’t where you want it to be, you’re not alone—plenty of people find that over time, their dogs seem to “unlearn” things they’ve been taught, and getting a new pet is generally rife with trials and tribulations. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to put up with this—an old dog (or even a not-so-old dog) can indeed learn new tricks. Check out our tips on how to do so.

Chewing

If your dog has taken a liking to chewing on things they shouldn’t be, the most important thing to do is to scold them as soon as you see them doing it, then redirect their chewing by giving them something they can chew on—a toy, a bone, etc. Once they start engaging with the toy or other distraction, praise them for no longer chewing on what they were before.

Barking

If your dog sits in front of the window and barks at passersby, barks at the doorbell, or just barks too much in general, the best way to stop this is to, again, divert their behavior. When your dog starts barking, get their attention pointed to something else: a treat, a toy, etc. Then, reward them for an alternative behavior, such as when the doorbell rings, they sit on a certain spot on the floor or rug, and they get a treat for doing so. Staying quiet until the door is answered should be rewarded, also.

Going to the Bathroom Indoors

This can be a complex issue. Perhaps they are acting out, perhaps there’s an underlying health issue, or they simply may not be able to hold it. In this instance, you should bring your dog for longer walks more frequently (hiring a dog walker can help with this if you can’t be at home more), as well as ask your vet and bring the dog in for a visit just to make sure nothing is wrong.

Digging

If your pup is tearing up the yard, it can be beneficial to rope off a clearly marked space that they’re allowed to do so in, but if you don’t want them digging at all, it’s important to know they may be doing it out of boredom. Be sure to play with your dog more so that they’re more mentally stimulated, and again, taking them on more frequent walks can help with boredom and restless behavior.

Begging

If you have a family member that just can’t resist those puppy dog eyes at the dinner table, this one is more about training your family member than the dog. If the dog’s begging works even once every 100 times he does it, that behavior gets reinforced and the dog will keep trying until that hundredth time. Be vigilant with this one, and provide your dog a space to go to when it’s dinnertime for his humans.

What are your tips for keeping your dog on his or her best behavior? Let us know in the comments.
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One Response to “How to Retrain a Dog That Has Bad Habits”

  • John says:

    What a useful tips. thanks for sharing. As a beginner, I found it very helpful. Having a dog bad habits are truly stressful but by knowing basic training can solve it.

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