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Behaviour Problems

Disobediences such as pulling at the leash, not coming when called, barking, digging holes and other undesirable behaviours start in the young puppy, and generally come from owner errors. This is when it's time to get some help. Give him some helpful attention, and basic obedience training and most problems can be overcome with time and patience.

Barking

Barking is one of the most-complained-about problems. Owners and neighbours often make it worse by yelling out the window, thereby paying attention to the dog, rewarding it for barking.

Most dogs bark because they're bored. Combat this with frequent varied walks, training and attention when he is quiet.

Other techniques include immediately going outside and locking him in a confined area, briefly, so he knows you're unhappy.

A successful method we use is the covert water pistol or bucket of water thrown from above. Our neighbours taught us this, with their slightly older dog before we got ours.

Many products have been created to address the barking issue. One is the citronella collar. It releases citronella whenever the dog barks, whose smell is repellant to most dogs.

Other products include electronic devices that emit a high-pitched sound to startle your dog and stop his barking. They often use a microphone to tune the device to the sound of your particular dog.

PETsMART has a range of such training devices.

Biters

A dog with a history of aggressive biting is dangerous. These should be kept away from children at all times, and only extremely competent trainers should attempt to rehabilitate them. Any signs of aggression must immediately be responded to.

Domineering Dogs

You need to constantly reaffirm your position as the leader of the pack, with a dog that feels it is dominant.

Never let it walk through the gate first - this is your role.

Always make him wait until you are fed first. No treats during the meal.

Don't lie down on the ground with your dog. Stay above him, seated in a lounge or chair.

Diggers

Our Labrador is an excellent digger. He is thankfully growing out of it, but it doesn't help that another friendly Lab lives next door, always ready for a race. They have both tried tunnelling under the wire fence to get to each other. And a broken pipe under our lawn caused patches that just begged to be made larger.

Some dogs dig from boredom, or because they're copying your gardening habits. Make sure they get lots of exercise and have lots of toys.

As dogs usually dig in the same place, make it unpleasant for them by sprinkling the area with chilli, peppers, citronella or his own dog poo.

The good old water pistol is another deterrent.

We covered the holes in our lawn with mesh (first wire, then plastic), held down by tent pegs. As long as we left it there until the grass had completely grown back, it was relatively successful.

Some have suggested the use of mouse traps, but I'd rather not hurt my best friend.

Leash Pulling

If you have a dog that frequently pulls on the leash, and drags you around on his walk, the recommended solution is to immediately stop, say the "Stop" command, wait until your dog turns and looks at you, and then proceed. As usual this will take a lot of repetition, so expect some lengthy walks while you master this.

Portable electronic devices can also emit high-pitched sounds when the leash is pulled on.