Solutions to Common Pet Problems
Problem: Your Dog Barks When the Doorbell Rings
Why it happens: “Many breeds bark to signal someone approaching the family pack,” says Mary Burch, director of the Canine Good Citizen program
of the American Kennel Club, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Because barking seems to banish intruders, your dog will want to
keep it up. “The action reinforces the behavior,” says Shain. “The dog barks, the delivery person leaves, and the dog thinks,
I’ve done my job!”
What to do: First, have a friend or a family member approach the door and scratch it softly enough that the sound does not elicit barking. Praise the dog and give him a treat. Work up to tapping the door, then knocking, and finally ringing the bell. “Soon the dog will start sniffing for treats whenever there’s a noise at the door,” says Chicago dog trainer Jeff Millman. “Add verbal praise before the treat and eventually his reward will be your saying ‘Good boy!’ and you won’t have to use treats.” But remember―it takes time to teach an old dog…you know.
Problem: Your Dog Urinates When You Get Home
Why it happens: “There may be a medical reason. Have the dog evaluated for urinary-tract problems,” says Ann E. Hohenhaus, a veterinarian
at the Animal Medical Center, in New York City. It may be a behavioral issue known as submissive urination. “The dog is saying,
‘I mean you no harm,’” explains Millman. “It’s common in puppies and often goes away on its own. But any behavior that is
rehearsed can become a habit.”
What to do: Avoid rushing to Rover when you come home. “Give your dog time to calm down, managing him in a crate or behind a baby gate,” says Millman. “When you approach, do it in a low-key way, with your body turned, so you’re not confrontational. Kneel and avoid eye contact.” Then take your dog outside to relieve himself.
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So maybe you can’t change your health overnight. But you can get a head start.