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  • Writer's picturelaurataylor861

I have tried everything, but my dog still misbehaves

Dog training can be really difficult especially when trying to change a habit which a dog finds incredibly self-rewarding or self-motivating to do. You then try to change habits and find it hard to change and then change techniques to see what works best.

Behaviour modification is a process and does take time. It is important not to get frustrated with your dog as they may not understand what it is that you want them to do. Start looking at what areas your dog is struggling with; is the environment is too busy, exciting? Do you know what motivates your dog to work? Have you generalised the behaviour? Are you consistent in your approach when you take your dog out?

There are so many different elements to think about and consider before you even look at thinking about changing techniques.

Look at possible accidental reinforcements too as sometimes timing can be off and the reward is put in the wrong place, then the dog thinks that the behaviour is a good thing to do and keeps repeating it as it may potentially work again.

It can be they are getting rewarded for their behaviour without even realising it, for example barking can be a really self-rewarding behaviour to do no matter how you approach it. It is important to look at the underlying causes to the behaviour and how you can change the anticipation of the behaviour and reinforcing habits that you like, that then become the preferred behaviour for the dog too.

When a training plan isn’t working it is worth stopping and investigating why it isn’t working first. Look at environment, look at if the dog fully understands what you are asking them to do, make it easy for them to get it right so you can reward the behaviour that you want.

Set easy to achieve goals and build solid foundations of two or three key elements and build from there otherwise it can become really overwhelming for both the owner and the dog if there are lots of different elements to work on. Once they become reliable then add in other behaviours. It is good to keep a diary, so you can see the progress you are making and set new goals as you go.

When training, expect to have set backs as dogs are not machines and they do have off days too! Don't panic that you have gone back to square one. Consistency is key and put in lots of repetitions to create a successful training journey. Shorter training sessions may be easier too as depending on the age of your dog, they may not be able to work for longer durations of time. Even ten to fifteen minutes will benefit. Try to end the session on a good note as it is more likely you will want to keep going with training rather than it always going wrong and becoming disheartened with it.

If you are still stuck or unsure what to do help and support is available and working alongside a trainer or behaviourists will give you the support you need to help get your dog’s training where you want it to be. Please do not hesitate to ask if you would like help with your dogs training.

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