Correcting Your Older Dog's Bad Behavior: Why The Cues Are Important

When a dog misbehaves, there could be more than just disciplinary issues. In fact, a misbehaved dog often gets into things around the home that they shouldn't--causing injury or illness and maybe requiring a visit to the vet. This can be a problem when your dog is at a groomer, such as South Tampa Puppy Palace, as well. The good news is that even if your dog is older, you can correct bad behavior by using specific cues during your training times, and this guide explains how.

Good Cues That Work

Dogs learn from the cues that you give them. However, your dog may not understand every cue equally. You need to use clear, concise cues that your dog can understand. For example, a clear, firm, "Sit!" will make more sense to your dog than saying "Fido, stop it! I told you to sit!"

The cues that you give largely impact the way that you can correct your dog's behavior. Of course your chosen cues work best when you catch your dog in the act. But if you use these same cues when playing or training your dog, they'll remember then when you do catch them in the act. Some good cues that dogs seem to understand well include:

  • sit
  • stay
  • give
  • drop it
  • lay down
  • down
  • good dog
  • bad dog

As you can see, these cues all contain only one or two syllables. Any more syllables than that, and your dog won't likely understand what it is that you want them to do. These are many of the same cues that the groomer might use as well, so that your dog doesn't become hurt during the procedures this professional takes to make him or her look awesome.

Match the Cues to the Behavior    

Dogs learn through reinforcement. Rewards train them to repeat a behavior and punishment causes them to refrain from the behavior in the future. To correctly train your dog, you must match the cues to the behavior. If your dog has obeyed you or behaved well, praise it, pet it, and give it a treat if appropriate. If the dog has misbehaved, you must scold it firmly using the cues you have established.

Dog owners tend to be hesitant to correct their dogs in fear of seeming harsh or somehow hurting their pets' feelings. You must remember that dogs do not process emotions the same way humans do and since they respond to what is happening in the moment, reward and punishment are the only effective ways to communicate right and wrong to your dog.

Be Consistent With Your Cues

Training your pet can be difficult. Like parenting a child, the most difficult aspect to maintain is consistency. Sometimes it is hard or exhausting to repeatedly give the same cues, especially if you're busy or tired. Getting out of bed to scold your dog for barking may be frustrating, but a little consistency now can pay off later.

Consistency is also a matter of teamwork. It is harder for your dog to learn proper behavior if your cues are one way, but other family members in the household treat the dog differently by giving different cues. Have a family discussion about what the dog is and is not allowed to do, and how the family cues the dog in various situations.

Expect cue training to take some time to complete, depending on the age of your dog. The younger your dog, the quicker you can expect him or her to respond. They just aren't as set in their ways as some older dogs. Ask your groomer about other cues they use to help with others dogs, so that there is even more consistency.