Teach them your world is safe

So that they can go places with you

it's so much more than training a dog to be obedient


We are often puzzled as to why our dogs dig, chew, bark excessively, mouth or nip, jump or react aggressively towards people, dogs, other animals, objects and noises.

There are many sources available on the internet to which you could refer, but be critical in what you read and careful in which methods you adopt. It’s important to know that many of these behaviours which we consider as ‘problems’ are natural behaviours for the dog. It barks to warn, it jumps to greet you, it digs to keep cool, it chews simply because it’s enjoyable. Often, these behaviours have been ‘rewarded’ by the dog’s owner (either intentionally or unintentionally) and have become habits.

Our understanding of how a dog learns has come a long way since the earlier training methods that use corrections as the sole or main way to address behaviour problems. While a spank or shout (softly delivered or otherwise) may seem to stop an unwanted behaviour, it has not addressed the issue of why your dog had behaved that way. Neither has it taught your dog what you would like it to do instead.

Reward-based, low stress and force-free methods that are based on a good understanding of why a dog is doing something, work well in treating many behaviour problems. The key to addressing a behaviour problem is to prevent it in the first place – by training your dog before a problem arises. As every dog and owner learns differently, please seek the help of a certified professional trainer or animal behaviourist to devise a suitable training programme to address these challenges.

Check these from DogStar:



Dogs bark in fear, to warn, in play, to guard territory, because it’s bored, and often, because it has learnt that barking gets the owner’s attention. It’s important to understand the cause of your dog’s barking in order to apply an appropriate solution to the problem. Check these




Chewing is a dog’s natural way to find out out about its environment. A puppy chews when it’s teething as that soothes its gums. Dogs chew because it’s relaxing and very often, they chew because they’re bored. especially when the owner hasn’t provided enough opportunities for mental and physical exercise. The solution to chewing problems is a combination of good environmental management (e.g. keeping forbidden objects out of your dog’s reach), rewarding your dog to reinforce chewing on proper chew toys and providing enough physical and mental stimulation through exercise and training games. Check these:




Digging is another natural canine behaviour and some breeds (like the dachshund) are selectively bred to dig (as part of their original function or work). Dogs dig to escape, bury things, hunt, cool down or because they’re bored. Understand the cause in order to find the right combination of solutions for the problem. Check this:




This is one of the most common issues that dog owners have and it’s also one that has been very likely reinforced by the owner. A dog jumps up to greet its owner or to get its attention, and often the owner bends down to pat the dog. Or they try to push the dog away, inadvertently turning the situation into a game, that increases the dog’s excitement and reinforces the jumping even more. When a dog is a puppy or a small dog, jumping is sometimes tolerated, but it’s a different case when the dog grows big. The key to addressing a jumping problem is to never reinforce it in any way. Check this:


Mouthing and Nipping


Just like chewing, nipping and mouthing are ways in which a dog learns to interact with its environment. A puppy learns to inhibit its bite when it plays with its litter mates or when it nips its mother a bit too hard. A puppy that has been nipped a bit too hard, will yelp in pain and stops all play with the ‘offending’ puppy. The latter then learns to nip with less force. When dogs that haven’t learnt bite inhibition interact with humans, they may nip or mouth in play, or to prevent the occurrence of an unpleasant action (e.g. nail clipping). It’s important that dogs are taught bite inhibition through training – training that doesn’t involve physical punishment. Check this:


Potty Training


Potty training requires you to observe your dog and learn its routine. Learn to tell if it needs to go after a nap, a meal, after playing, drinking etc. Supervision is critical when you potty train, so that you’re able to bring your dog to the designated potty area, each and every time it has to go. When your dog has gone, reward it with some play time with you, and an on-leash guided tour of the house. Check these:




Lack of socialisation is one of the main reasons for dogs reacting aggressively or fearfully in a variety of situations. It’s preferable to socialise a puppy during the critical developmental period of between 4-16 weeks.  However older dogs that were not properly socialised, can also learn to become less reactive through counter-conditioning and desensitisation. Counter-conditioning and desensitisation may be a lengthy process and requires patience, commitment and consistency from the owner. It’s important not to use aversive training methods to address aggression caused by fear – you should seek the help of a trained professional. Check these:


Read and think 'dog'!

here are some great sources of information to get you started


Articles & Videos by cheerfuldogs.com






American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statements
Dog Training Books and Videos



  • Patricia B. McConnell & Brenda Scidmore: The Puppy Primer
  • Patricia B. McConnell: How to be the Leader of the Pack…And Have Your Dog Love You for It
  • Patricia B. McConnell: Tales of Two Species – Essays on Loving and Living with Dogs
  • Patricia B. McConnell & Aimee M. Moore: Family Friendly Dog Training: A Six Week Program for You and Your Dog
  • Patricia B. McConnell: The Cautious Canine
  • Patricia B. McConnell: I’ll be Home Soon! How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety
  • Patricia B. McConnell & Karen B. London: Feisty Fido
  • Karen B. London & Patricia B. McConnell: Play Together, Stay Together – Happy and Healthy Play Between People and Dogs
  • Karen B. London & Patricia B. McConnell: Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multi-Dog Household
  • Jean Donaldson
  • Jean Donaldson: The Culture Clash:  A Revolutionary New Way to Understanding the Relationship between Humans and Domestic Dogs
  • Jean Donaldson: Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs
  • Deborah Wood: Help for Your Shy Dog: Turning Your Terrified Dog into a Terrific Pet
  • Pat Miller: Power of Positive Dog Training
  • Brenda Aloff: Canine Body Language – A Photographic Guide
  • Brenda Aloff: Get Connected with Your Dog
  • Brenda Aloff: Aggression in Dogs
  • Brenda Aloff: Puppy Problems? No Problem!
  • Alexandra Horowitz: Inside of A Dog
  • Victoria Stilwell: Train Your Dog Positively
  • John Bradshaw: Dog Sense – How The New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet
  • Sophia Yin: How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves
  • Sophia Yin: Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right
  • John W. Pilley & Hillary Hinzmann: Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words
  • Gregory Burns: How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain


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