“Just put the dog outside!” Is this the best way to deal with problem behaviours?

Imagine this, your dog has had a toilet training accident or they are annoying your older dog, chewing your furniture, jumping on your guests or putting their feet on the kitchen bench – what do you do?

One option is to put the dog outside the house. Is this the best long-term solution to change your dog’s behaviour in the house?

Here are three reasons why putting the dog outside is not effective.

1. Only managing “problem” behaviour

When the dog “misbehaves” inside the house, putting them outside immediately “stops” the undesirable behaviour. So, it seems like an effective solution but what happens when you next have guests or you let the dog back into the house. It is likely the dog will go back to performing the same “problem” behaviour because putting the dog outside has merely “stopped” the behaviour, not taught the dog how you would prefer them to behave.

2. What is the dog learning outside?

When the dog is outside, unsupervised what are they learning? They could be barking, whining, digging, chewing, pulling washing off the line or jumping at the door to be let in. Remember the phrase “practise makes perfect”. So, all the time your dog is practising jumping at the door or whining outside the house, this behaviour is becoming stronger.

3. Effect on your relationship

While your dog is outside, they are learning to have fun without you. So, when you do want your dog to listen to you, they are less inclined to do so, because they have a history of rewarding themselves. They are therefore are less motivated to work with you. The longer the time the dog spends outside away from their family, the more self-reliant they become and less motivated they are to listen to their family.

How to deal with problem behaviours in dogs?

If putting the dog outside is not an effective way of dealing with “problem” behaviours in the house, then what is the solution?

The solution is to train the dog to behave the way you want, when they are in the house. Sounds simple, but where to begin.

Instead of thinking about how to “stop” your dog’s behaviour, think about what you want the dog to do “instead of” the problem behaviour.

Here are some tips to develop your training plan.

1. List your dog’s “problem” behaviours

Make a list of all the times your dog misbehaves. Be really specific about when and where the behaviour occurs and how the dog behaves.

For example, when guests come to the door, the dog jumps, puts their feet on the door and barks frantically.

Another example, at 4:50pm everyday when I start getting the dog’s dinner they put their feet on the counter.

2. Set priorities

Review your list and decide which behaviours you want to address first. Pick one or two to start. You might consider behaviours where the dog’s safety is at risk. For example, door dashing.

3. Imagine the “new” behaviour

Decide what you would like the dog to do “instead” of the inappropriate behaviour. Again, be specific.

For example, when guests knock on the door, I want my dog to sit on their mat until I release them to go say hi.

4. Break down the new behaviour

Think of all the component parts to your new behaviour and train them individually before putting all the steps together.

Taking the example of sitting on the mat when guests arrive, training steps may include:

  • Teach the dog to get on their mat
  • Teach the dog to get on their mat regardless of where you are standing.
  • Teach the dog to get on their when you knock on the door.
  • Test your dog’s ability to get on their mat by asking:
    • Family members to knock on the door
    • A training helper to knock on the door
  • Teach the dog to stay on their mat
  • Test the dog’s ability to get on, stay on and come off the mat with distractions like:
    • You moving around (not standing still)
    • You walking in and out of the room
    • Family members standing in the room
    • Family members walking around the room
    • You playing with the dog’s toy (while they are on the mat)
    • Multiple family members playing with the dog’s toys
    • One training helper standing in the room
    • One training helper walking around the room
  • Teach the dog when they can get off their mat

Gradually, add distractions (i.e. more helpers with gradually increasing levels of excitement pretending to knock on the door) until your dog can perform the new behaviour when anyone visits your house.

So, you can see that putting the dog outside “stops” the undesirable behaviour, but it is not teaching the dog how you want them to behave in the house.

For tips and hints on training your dog to be well mannered in your house, please speak with your Teamwork trainer.

Teamwork Dogs offers puppy school for dogs aged 10 – 24 weeks. For dogs aged from 6 months, Teamwork Dogs offers foundation skills training that you can easily apply to many household situations.

Classes are offered at Taigum, Caboolture and Redcliffe.

Happy training!

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay