Owning a dog can be challenging, even if you are doing everything right! Below is a list of “troubleshooting” tips of common problems to help you get the most out of your relationship with your four-legged friend.

How do I stop my dog pulling on the leash?
It is important to try to make the dog heel next to you or behind you. This plays into their pack instincts of “follow the leader.” And you must always be the leader! The most important thing to remember is that when correcting the dog with a gentle tug on the leash, always let the leash loose again once the dog is beside you. In the beginning, the dog will continuously go forward. But they cannot learn unless they are continuously corrected at the right moment, with a quick tug, and release. The release is the reward, and the finished result will be a dog that heels next to you on a loose leash!

How do I stop my dog barking all the time?
The important thing to remember is to not yell at the dog when they bark, which is often the first reaction. The most effective way to stop barking is to command the dog to “shush” when he barks, then reward with a calm “good dog” the second they are quiet. This may need to repeated quite a few times before the dog gets it, but the trick to this is to always remember to reward the desired behavior.

How do I stop my dog lunging after other dogs on the leash?
This one can be a little more challenging to perfect, but the basis of it is to teach the dog to “leave it.” This usually requires a little more training, but once the dog understands the command, they will learn to leave dogs and other tempting things alone. Again, it is impotant to always reward the correct behavior with a “good leave.”

How do I stop my dog begging for food?
Feed time is a primal instinct for dogs, which means it is most important that you remain the pack leader at this time. A dog that is perfectly balanced and happy with his pack order won’t beg for food. A simple ritual to reinforce that you are the pack leader at meal times is to make the dog sit and wait, before giving him an “okay” to eat his food. It also helps if the dog is not around while you prepare their meal, and they should also not be at your feet while you eat! It can be a good idea to have your dog lie on his bed or in his crate away from the table while you eat. If you like to treat your dog with food scraps, wait until you have finished eating and cleared your plate, and then place the scraps in his bowl, using the same sit and wait technique mentioned above. This should also only be done if the dog has remained on his bed while you are eating, so the leftovers become a reward. This simple routine will effectivley teach your dog not to beg in good time.

How do I give my dog more mental stimulation?
Many dogs require a job, and can get bored or anxious without one. A simple fix to this is to get a doggy backpack. The backpack makes the dog focus on a task – carrying something for you – and can help satisfy that working urge in most breeds. In the beginning, it should only be weighed down by a water bottle on each side, or something else light. As the dog gets used to the pack, the weight can be slowly increased up to 25% of the dog’s body weight. Young puppies and older dogs or dogs with previous injuries should not carry backpacks, unless approved by your vet. Another way to mentally stimulate your dog is to buy an interactive dog puzzle or game. These come in various styles and difficulties, and are a fun way for you to bond with your dog while teaching him problem solving skills.

My puppy is having problems with house training, what am I doing wrong?
Housetraining can be challenging, and when the puppy has been doing so well then falls back to having accidents again, it is common to think you are doing something wrong. Like young children, puppies will occasionally have accidents. It is up to you to make sure they know what they did wrong in the correct manner. It is important to never yell at the dog for eliminating in the house. Rubbing their nose in it is also unnecessary. If you catch the puppy going in the house, calmly pick up the pup or gently grab them by the scruff (loose skin on the back of their neck) and guide them to the spot you want them to go. Once there, say “go potty.” If they have already eliminated, they may not need to go again, however you never know with young puppies! Whenever the dog does go in the right spot, praise them, and reward with a “good potty” and a nice treat. Potty training must be kept consistent, and no matter how frustrated you are with the mess your new baby has made over and over again, never let the dog see how mad you are!