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Down boy

By Robert Nurden 30/08/2012

Training tips for energetic dogs...

Even the most well-behaved dog can sometimes play up, but how do you bring it to heel? Money Matters contributor Robert Nurden asks the experts for some suggestions...

Jumping up, pulling on the lead, barking for no reason, stealing food, chewing items in the house, and going to the toilet in the wrong place… a poorly behaved dog can be exasperating – and costly. But the good news is that most of these problems can be solved at home.

Problem: Your dog seems to have too much energy

Trying to understand why your dog is misbehaving is the key, according to Sarah Bosence, who runs the Devon-based company In The Dog House. Why, for example, is your dog jumping up? Does it want your attention, is it over-excited, or is it simply pleased to see you?

Solution

‘If it’s happy to see you and jumps up, then you should walk away,’ Sarah says. ‘Then it gets conditioned to realise that doing that brings a negative reaction. When it stops jumping, you reward it.’

Problem: Your dog constantly pulls on the lead

With pulling on the lead, Sarah follows the same principle as the jumping up issue. ‘Is it doing it because it’s never been taught not to?’ she says. ‘Is it getting enough exercise? Or does it think that’s what you do with a lead? In every case, you must teach it what you want and what you don’t want it to do.’

Solution

If the dog pulls on the lead, Sarah recommends making an ‘aah’ sound in a deep voice and turning around. ‘It will associate the negative noise with seeing the owner turn away and realise that when it’s walking well, with a nice loose lead, and without any pressure on the collar, it will hear “yes” and get a reward.’ Shouting ‘no’ or ‘stop that’ won’t help, say the experts – the common factor in solving all these problems is not to react aggressively to your dog’s bad behaviour, but to reward good behaviour.

Problem: Your dog causes chaos inside the home

Many behavioural problems start inside the family home. One case in question? A dog will steal food from the table if you haven’t made it clear that you are the ‘pack leader’ – in other words, the dominant one.

Solution

To stop food theft, make sure that the family always eats first and don’t give your dog its food until you have finished. Meanwhile, dogs gnawing away at household items comes from boredom and not getting enough attention, so make sure your pet feels like one of the family.

Problem: Your dog just won’t obey

No matter how hard you try to keep him under control, Rover is determined to do his own thing. Canine experts will say (no doubt with a wag of the finger!) that the fault lies with you, rather than your dog. While that may be hard to hear, the simple fact is, owners are usually to blame when things go wrong with a pet’s behaviour.

Solution

Prevention, rather than cure, is the secret, and that means putting in some hard work right from the outset. Puppy training is what it’s all about, because it is widely agreed that instilling sociable habits and good manners in your pet early on reduces the likelihood of out-of-control behaviour later.

‘Training is all about consistency and repetition,’ says Lauren Langman, lead trainer at Devon Dogs. ‘We train the owner, not the dog.’ Forming good habits and repetition of commands is especially vital, so make sure every family member uses the same orders – then your pooch won’t get mixed messages!

 This post was written by Money Matters contributor Robert Nurden.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.

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