How to Raise a Problem Dog

Learn how to increase the income of your local dog behavior consultant by raising a dog who’s fearful, aggressive, and un-housetrained. Or do the opposite, and up the odds of having a friendly, confident pet.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #212

Never let your puppy or dog eat a meal in peace. Instead, frequently stick your hand in the bowl, or pick up the bowl and take away the food at random times. Help her learn that mealtime is really Pester the Dog Time. As she gets more and more irritated, bother her more, to really drive the lesson home.

Whenever your puppy or dog playfully steals a shoe, a wallet, or a remote control, get angry! Run after her, screaming and yelling, corner her, and grab the stolen item. Wrench it out of her mouth if you have to. She’ll soon learn that if she’s found something to play with, you get very scary indeed. When she starts to defend herself against your approach, it’s time to make that phone call to the behavior specialist and write those checks.

Sure, you can insist on teaching your puppy or dog that when humans approach their food, a delicious extra treat may land in the bowl. But the dog who squints happily and wiggles her butt when people come by as she’s eating – that dog isn’t paying your trainer’s mortgage. You can give your dog plenty of legal chew toys and calmly offer her a treat in trade when she gets hold of something she ought not to have, but, again, the dog who’s learned to give up stolen items happily is doing nothing for my bottom line. Have some consideration, people!

Step #4: Housetrain Like a Slacker

Okay, you can live with a small dog you’ve taught to use pee pads in bad weather. But what about a small dog who pees and poops just anywhere? What about a big dog? Un-housetraining is one of the easiest problem behaviors to achieve. Puppies need regular and frequent – really frequent – outdoor toilet breaks, plus careful supervision while indoors. To achieve un-housetraining, all you need to do is finish that one last email before you take your puppy out. Hit Snooze one more time in the morning. Tell yourself that Zippy really can hang on for another half hour in his crate. Once a dog has learned to soil his crate, you’ve made remedial housetraining much, much tougher. The dog trainer you hire to help you should now be able to take that trip to Europe she’s been wanting.

Want to know how to make things even worse? Try this: After you’ve set up your puppy to make mistakes, haul him over to his poop or pee, then yell at him or smack him. Once your puppy figures out that people get violent around his output, he may start looking for toilet hideouts and refuse to eliminate while he’s on leash with you – after all, you can see him! Now the trainer has her work cut out for her, to teach Zippy it’s safe to pee and poop in your presence after all. That trip to Europe I mentioned? It comes with stays at some nice hotels.

There are many more ways to damage your dog’s behavioral health. Be inconsistent in your expectations – punish something one day, reward it the next. Say “No!” all the time, instead of gently and patiently teaching your dog what you do want. Learn nothing about dog body language and signaling, so all your dog’s attempts to communicate with you are doomed. Look out, it’s a train wreck!

Not what you're looking for? All right, I'll get serious. Nobody can guarantee that if you avoid the pitfalls I’ve mentioned here, your dog will be in good behavioral health. Some dogs are born vulnerable for whatever reason, and have problems no matter how carefully they’re raised. But your odds of having a happy, pleasant dog shoot up when you socialize carefully, train kindly, and don’t blow your stack over every little thing. As for your local behavior specialists, we’ll be poorer but happier.

That’s it for now! Stop by and visit me on Facebook, or write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. I welcome your comments and suggestions, and though I can’t reply individually, I may use them as the basis for future episodes. Thanks for reading!>



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).

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