3 Tips to Set Your Dog Up for Success

If you're working on a dog behavior problem, here are 3 tips to set your dog up for success. 

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
1-minute read

3 Tips to Set Your Dog Up for SuccessWorking on a dog behavior problem? Here are 3 ways to set your dog up for better success.

  1. Unless your dog guards food or toys, use food-dispensing puzzle toys for your dog’s meals. Yep, I say this all the time, about everything. That’s because it really helps. Animals who get food as a result of working for it may feel more in control of their environment. (“I pushed the ball around and succeeded in getting food.”) The result is that they’re actually less stressed than animals who just get food “for free”!

  1. If your dog’s problems limit the amount of outdoor exercise he can have (or even if they don’t), use clicker training, nose games, and cooperative games of Tug to keep him active and prevent boredom. Inactivity and boredom are huge stressors for dogs and they contribute to edginess and out-of-control behavior.

  1. Make yourself an expert in your dog’s body language. When you can detect early signs of discomfort and anxiety, you can often help your dog cope by giving her more space, blocking her view, asking people not to approach, or whatever else will increase her comfort level. Some signs to watch for: a closed mouth; whites of the eyes visible; yawning when not tired; a furrowed brow; an unblinking stare. Stay aware, and head trouble off at the pass.

Ball toy for feeding pet from Shutterstock

About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).