For millions of families across America, pets are a regular part of our everyday life. The most popular household pet of choice is the trusty dog, with 37 – 47% of the population owning one. It's little wonder why – they are the most loyal animal around, due to their ancestry with wolves. Wolves are pack animals who are fiercely loyal to their peers – when we bring our dog home for the first time, it starts to see us as part of its pack. This is why our dogs protect us so much, and why they thrive on attention and affection. But the harmony of the ‘pack' can be severely disrupted if your dog has behavioral problems. Every pack needs a leader – and if you dog doesn't understand that you are the leader, it may start to misbehave. Or maybe your dog has always caused you problems and you don't know what the root cause of it all is. If you want to take back control from a dog that is running your home, take a look at why this might be – and what you can do to change things.
Become the pack leader
As mentioned before, your dog needs a fully established hierarchy in order for it to know how to behave. Your dog may run riot around the home and be aggressive towards you simply because it thinks it has the right to do so. If you do not establish yourself as the pack leader from the very moment your new dog walks in the door, you could face a lot of trouble later in your dog's life. Just as dogs train their puppies from birth, so should you. Be calm and assertive – any wild, nervous behavior from you won't leave your dog convinced that they need to listen to you. The most important thing to do when becoming the pack leader is to set boundaries. Use body language and certain words that your dog understands to communicate with them and let them know what you expect. This can be vital when dealing with any kind of bad dog behavior, from jumping on the sofa to biting strangers.
Check for underlying health issues
Just as we can be cranky or miserable when we feel ill, your dog is likely to be the same. The difficult thing is knowing what is ailing your dog. After all, they can't speak to us to let us know how they feel, so it all relies on you being educated in their health. Your dog may become lazy or aggressive as a result of being in pain, so don't just think it is a behavioral issue when they act like this. Arthritis, yeast infections, teeth problems and even cancer can all be underlying reasons as to why your dog is misbehaving. The best thing you can do is make sure you are covered by a good insurance policy, so read an embrace pet insurance review to see what you and your dog need. This way you can give your dog the medical attention it needs, and you will see a welcome change in their behavior too.
Make sure your dog is mentally stimulated
Have you ever worked a boring office job where you've just been sat at a desk all day? It can be mind-numbing – and if your dog is kept at home all day with nothing to get its brain working, it can start to misbehave simply for something to do. Dogs are highly intelligent creatures who thrive off interaction with their owners, so you need to be prepared to spend some time with your dog that isn't just a 30-minute walk where you are barely paying attention. How advanced you choose to get is up to you – but most dogs can easily grasp memory games with a bit of training. Use food as a reward and you will be amazed at how quickly they pick things up!
Keep their routine consistent
Think about what you let your dog get away with and what you punish them for. If you let them sleep on your bed one night, but shout at them next time they jump on with you, what kind of message are you giving them? Your dog may not realize that they are misbehaving so you need to be consistent with what you allow them to do. How you react is especially important, as your dog may just be looking for attention. If you only react when they do something bad, they're going to repeat that behavior simply to get your attention. Focus on praising them when they behave well, and use a specific tone of voice when telling them off. They will soon learn the difference and you will see their behavior change.