Behaviour Modification

Understanding and gaining control over your dog's behaviour.

The first thing to understand about "behaviour problems" is that they are rarely a problem for the dog. Chances are he truly enjoys digging up your garden, tipping over the trash, jumping on you, chasing the cat or unstuffing the couch!

Before you can make any changes to the dog's behaviour you must first ensure that you are not creating the problem. If the dog does not have what he needs eg: a proper diet, plenty of exercise and daily interaction or if he has too much of something eg: crating for long hours, constantly being excited or frightened, he will not be able to give you his best.

Situation #1

How often have you seen “Spot” walk by with something forbidden in his mouth? You scold him and tell him to drop it, he does and you continue to scold? Don’t pass up the opportunity to PRAISE. After all he did drop it and it's too late now to try to correct him having it in the first place. Try to maintain a safe environment for your puppy and focus on positive reinforcement instead of scolding or punishment.

Situation #2

How often have you struggled through the door with “Spot” jumping up at you, you hip check, shove and yell at him? When he finally gets off of you, you think, “Phew, now I can get my coat off” and ignore him? Think about it, what just got him the most attention? Right, jumping up! What got him the least attention? If you guessed all four paws on the floor you’re right! Now what do you suppose he’ll do next time? JUMP EVEN MORE!

Behaviours That Require Correcting & Helpful Hints


Dogs bark for many reasons. Knowing why “Spot” barks is essential to figuring out how to make him stop. Most dogs like to tell you when someone is approaching. This is an example of good barking. Always thank your dog for telling you someone was there, then use the word “Quiet” in a firm voice to let him know not to bark any longer than necessary. You may need to distract him with a treat at first to prove the need to bark is over. What would you do if he still didn’t stop? How about Boredom Barking? Barking when left alone, barking for attention, or even at the doorbell?


No matter how you approach it housebreaking is A LOT of work requiring A LOT of patience. Trying to rush your puppy or losing your patience will only increase the amount of time required to train. These simple steps should help. Having your puppy in a crate in between potty breaks will considerably cut down on accidents. As your puppy becomes more successful gradually increase his space in the house (a tiled room that can be sectioned off is great!) And allow him more time out of his crate.

STEP #1: Take your puppy outside on a leash first thing in the morning, and immediately after sleeping, playing or eating. Praise your puppy every single time he "goes"!

STEP #2: Only leave down food and water for 15-20 mins. This gives you control over when they eat or drink, therefore you should be able to estimate when they will need to eliminate. Don’t give food or water after 6:00pm. It is very difficult for puppies to regulate their bowels and bladders overnight.

STEP #3: When puppy is outside and begins to pee, try using a command such as “duties or potties” this will teach them to go on command in the future.

Remember it takes tons of PRAISE, PATIENCE AND TREATS to be successful!

Nipping & Mouthing

Puppies need to learn to inhibit their bite. Mothers and siblings usually correct this behaviour. However if your puppy was taken from his mother at an early age this can still be a problem. First of all keep your hands out of the puppy’s face and mouth! Next we use the word “OFF” in a firm voice. If puppy is still playing too rambunctiously, stop the play by putting him on the other side of a closed door while still holding his leash, or walk him to his crate. Allow him back out after a few minutes. You can also try leaving a light leash on him when children are present; this makes it easier to grab the leash instead of the puppy to correct his behaviour.

Pulling on the Leash

Do you sometimes wonder who’s walking who? You’re not alone! Our classes specifically deal with “heeling” issues. In no time you and “Spot” will be enjoying your leisurely stroll.


Dogs LOVE to dig! They dig for many reasons. They dig for fun or because they're bored. They dig for a comfy spot to sleep or to find a cool space on a hot summer's day. Some breeds(like terriers) are actually bred to dig. The best way to stop digging is to supervise your dog when he’s outside. If you can’t supervise him, it’s best not to leave him alone outdoors. If your dog must be out alone consider having a large run installed where both he and your lawn and gardens will be safe. Disciplining after the fact will not stop digging. You must catch him in the act. If he responds to your voice and stops digging, PRAISE him. If he doesn’t respond to your voice be sure he’s on a leash when out with you. Use your voice and direct him away from wherever he’s digging. Over time he will respond reliably to your verbal commands.

Children & Dogs

One of the most common problems that new dog owners face is the behaviour of both puppies and children. Young children run and squeal with high pitched voices. Puppies love to chase and nip anything that moves. PLEASE HAVE AN ADULT SUPERVISE WHEN CHILDREN ARE WITH PUPPIES.

Puppies and children need to be taught how to interact with each other.
It should not be left to chance. You need to build a positive relationship between dog and child that will last their life.
  1. Introduce your child to your puppy by gently rubbing their hands with yours to impart your scent. The puppy is more familiar with your scent so this can make the first meeting easier for the puppy. You can also hold the child's hand and assist him/her to gently pet the puppy, then have the child pet the puppy on his/her own. Reward the puppy with praise and treats.
  2. Children should be taught not to approach and pet any dog unless they first have the owner’s permission. Children should stand like a tree with their branches out and let the dog come to them. Let the dog sniff their hand and then gently rub the dog under the chin, not over the head.
  3. Children should learn not to hold food over their heads to keep it away from the puppy. Food held up will encourage the puppy to jump for the food and onto the child.
  4. Children must avoid running and squealing to get away from the puppy. They should stop and stand up straight and teach the puppy to sit for a treat.
  5. Children should approach a sleeping dog by speaking to him first. Once the dog is awake, the child can offer a treat and scratch him under the chin. They should not give him hugs.
  6. Teach your puppy to work for the child by doing simple exercises such as "si"t and "down" for food. This should be done under your supervision. Use food to teach your puppy to roll over for a treat and tummy rub.
If you have questions regarding behaviour modification, please contact us.