Surprising Things You Don't Realize You're Doing That Cause Your Dog To Behave Badly

Experts point out the small mistakes you might not realize you’re making when it comes to your pup.

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Becoming a dog owner is one of the most rewarding jobs. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy — especially when your pet is just a puppy. Thankfully, Bustle enlisted the help of top experts, including professional dog trainers and veterinarians, who have mastered the art of getting your pet to behave. The best part? Most of these tips are easy tricks that can be solved in no time. Ahead, you’ll discover amazing advice accompanied by products that will help with everything from your communication style to the best way to get your dog to exercise and socialize.


Issue: Not Using The Right Positive Reinforcements

Solution: This Bacon-Flavored Dog Treat That’s Great For Training

Tolentino says she “always [recommends] food and treats to my clients because they are motivating to most dogs, and are a clear and easy reinforcer that you can dispense at any time.” She continues, “My favorite training treats to use for training are Crazy Dog Train-Me! treats, because they have an enticing smell but are low in calories.”

With a 4.7-star rating, thousands of pet owners agree, choosing this bacon-flavored treat to reward their dog during training sessions.


Issue: Not Keeping An Eye On Your Dog’s Exercise Levels

Solution: This Versatile Frisbee Toy

Neer tells Bustle, “If a dog is not getting enough (or too much) exercise, their behavior can be uncontrollable. They might never settle, become destructive, or pester you non-stop,” She continues, “Meeting their exercise needs is a necessity for [a] calm life in the home. I opt for around 10 minutes per day of fast exercise, think off-leash running, training games with speed, and things like disc.”

Amazon shoppers love this frisbee that is designed to be soft on your dog's teeth. It can also float in water and is available in an assortment of bright colors like blue and neon pink, as well as a camouflage print.


Issue: Your Dog Is Using Your Furniture As A Chew Toy

Solution: A Long-Lasting Chew Bone That Is Flavorful

While bones are always good to have around, what type do dog professionals choose? “Chewing itself isn’t bad — you just want your dog chewing on the right things!” says Meg Marrs, Founder of K9 of Mine. “Instead of punishing your pup for chomping on your coffee table, redirect your dog to appropriate long-lasting dog chews like Nylabones or bully sticks. Nylabones in particular are designed to be enjoyable to chew while also having plenty of notches and crevices to help scrape plaque off of your dog’s teeth.” Sold.


Issue: You’re Overdoing It On Not-So-Healthy Treats

Solution: These Delicious Blueberry Dog Treats Made From All-Natural Ingredients

Pet owners alike can relate to giving in to too many treats. “Don’t go overboard with treats,” Dr. Elvina Yau, Veterinarian (DVM), tells Bustle. “Even if they're healthy treats, they should make up for no more than 10% of your dog’s calorie intake, to ensure they’re getting the right nutrient balance.”

“Treats can, however, be a highly effective training tool,” she continued. While the best treats can be fresh from your kitchen, like cucumbers and carrots, those aren't always available. “For more traditional treats, some of our favorites are Riley's Organic Turkey & Sweet Potato Jibbs Training Treats, Full Moon Treats, and Bocce's Bakery Training Bites,” she suggests. The Bocce Bakery treats come in three different flavors, all of which are free from preservatives and artificial ingredients. Aside from training, they’re also a good size to use in treat puzzles.


Issue: Not Letting Your Dog Sniff And Forage

Solution: This Interactive Puzzle That’ll Keep Them Amused

Lauren Sharkey, ABTC-registered Animal Training Instructor and founder of Winnie's World, told Bustle, “Many dogs love to sniff and forage. So why not try putting aside a bit of their food each day or grabbing some treats and putting them in a snuffle mat? It's an easy, mess-free way to allow your dog to use their nose, which is calming and can help use up energy more effectively than just physical exercise. Once they've started getting good at it, you can even hide mini snuffle mats around the house for them to find. Remember that it's always good to give dogs choice so you don't need to ‘ditch the bowl’ completely — they shouldn't have to work for every bit of food!”

This snuffle mat comes in two sizes, and will likely even delight humans. It’s cute and colorful, but also easy to fold up and store when it’s not in use.


Issue: Not Giving Your Dog Enough To Do

Solution: This Puzzle Toy To Keep Them Enriched

According to Blythe Neer, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, CCUI at Delta Tails, “Enrichment is CRUCIAL for well-behaved dogs. Think just how cranky we would be if we couldn't participate in our favorite hobbies, couldn't have careers, and had to eat the same food every day. We wouldn't be very happy and behaved either. Enrichment is a part of daily dog care that is often overlooked.”

This treat-dispensing dog toy is amazing for interaction. It features hidden treats that your pup will be so happy to come across as they play. It’s available in five colors.


Issue: Forgetting To Always Have Treats Handy

Solution: This Treat Training Pouch That’s Dubbed A Best-Seller

According to Sharkey, food rewards are important. She tells Bustle, “While there are other ways to reward behavior, such as play, food is often the easiest and quickest method.” She continued, “But it can be difficult to make sure you reward the right behavior if you don't have treats to hand. That's where a treat pouch comes in. You can keep it on you at all times — even in the house — so you don't miss the perfect moment to reward. For example, you can reward your dog as soon as they sit or go to their bed while you're eating dinner, rather than having to run to get a treat and miss the moment."

This treat dispenser is special since it also doubles as a bag dispenser. It’s also versatile, with three different ways to wear it around.


Issue: Not Focusing On Your Dog’s Sleep

Solution: A Cozy Place For Your Pup To Relax

According to Neer, sleep for pets is also important. “We know sleep is important for humans, but did you know that dogs need much more than we do? If a dog is not getting enough quality sleep or is constantly interrupted, their behavior can worsen as a result,” she says. “I have seen many cases of reactivity lessen almost completely just by getting better sleep.”

Investing in a comfortable bed is a must for your dog. This calming bed has an impressive 4.7-star rating. It’s crafted from soft plush with raised edges for extra support.


Issue: Pushing Off-Leash Walks Before Your Dog Is Ready

Solution: A Top-Rated Dog Leash That Extends Up To 100 Feet

Kimberlee Tolentino, head trainer and owner of Lugaru K9 Training, says, “One of the most common mistakes I see dog owners make is giving their dog too much freedom too fast. Every dog owner wants to see their dog be able to run around at the park or have some extra freedom on a hike but aren't prepared for their dog taking off on a squirrel or running up on a reactive or aggressive dog otherwise minding their business.”

Tolentino continues, “When I'm training a dog to be off-leash reliable, I utilize long lines, which allow a dog to have a degree of freedom while leaving the dog owner with a surefire way to get the dog under control quickly if need be. Remember, though, always be aware of your surroundings while out with your dog!”

Available in an array of different colors, this leash is available in lengths between 15 and 100 feet, making it a great choice.


Issue: Accepting That Your Dog Will Always Pull On Their Leash

Solution: This Super Strong Rope Leash That Has A Sturdy Clasp Made Of Metal

Many pet owners can likely relate to Daniel Caughill, the co-founder of The Dog Tale, who says, “You might love that your retractable dog leash allows your dog to roam without requiring you to keep up with them.” He explains, “But all of that extra slack encourages your dog to pull on the leash. Retractable leashes give your dog an inconsistent amount of distance and restraint, which means they’ll be more likely to try to force their way over to something you don’t want them getting into on walks. It’s better to use a strong rope leash that allows you to train your dog to stay in step beside you.”

This rope leash features a sturdy clasp made from heavy metal that will keep your dog secure. It’s available in 48 to 72 inches and comes in 21 different colors.


Issue: Having A Dog That’s Always Begging For Food

Solution: This Dog Bowl That Will Help Your Pup Eat Slower

Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and consultant for FiveBarks, tells Bustle, “Owners often make the mistake of feeding their dog from a boring old dog bowl. This can lead to a dog who gulps their food down quickly and may even create a dog who begs and pesters for food. Rather than a bowl that provides the opportunity to ‘gobble’, we should be using slow feeder dog bowl and food puzzles, to feed speedy eaters.”

This slow feeder bowl is great for preventing overeating and getting your dogs to eat their food slowly thanks to its innovative maze design. You can choose from six different colors and three sizes depending on the size of your pup.


Issue: Ignoring Possible Separation Anxiety

Solution: This Rotating Pet Camera That Has Color Night Vision

If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, Simon recommends a doggy camera. She says, “Oftentimes when we are away from home, our dog tries to communicate with us. Those with separation anxiety may bark, whine and become destructive.” Simon explains, “This is their way of letting us know they are distressed and, as the good owner that we are, we need to identify this and help our pooch out. So, how can we know what our dog is doing when we are out of the home? With a doggy cam of course.”

If you’re in the market for a new pet camera, this one comes highly recommended. It rotates 360 degrees and has two-way audio with color-night vision, so you can check in on your dog at all hours of the night. And since it tosses out treats, your dog will be very interested.


Issue: Your Dog Has Gotten Bored

Solution: This Best-Selling Soccer Ball That Will Keep Your Dog Entertained

“Our dog may let us know they are bored by refusing their regular walks or becoming destructive around the house,” Simon notes. “They might even start to disobey commands and to have poor recall when outdoors. It is our job to make their daily exercise interesting and to register when they are not satisfied. We should take them on varied routes and use a range of fun toys.”

If you’re looking for ways to keep your dog entertained outside, give this soccer ball a try. Over 1,300 shoppers gave it a positive rating. It’s easy to throw and can withstand water, and it’s designed in a way that’s easy for dogs to grab and carry.


Issue: You Made A Big Change That Has Stressed Out Your Dog

Solution: A Calming Room Spray That Can Help Reduce Pet Stress

Aaron Rice, a dog trainer at Stayyy, says, “It’s important to understand that dogs are sensitive to changes in their environment. If something changes suddenly, they can become easily stressed out and anxious. This could be anything from a new pet in the household to a change in your daily routine. If your dog starts exhibiting strange behaviors, it could be a sign that something has changed and they’re trying to cope with it.”

Formulated with ingredients like rosemary, clove, and chamomile, this calming spray is amazing for reducing anxiety and can help with your dog’s motion sickness. It’s also great to have around in case your dog is sensitive to stormy weather.


Issue: Your Dog Doesn’t Have Enough Space

Solution: This Durable Dog Runner Tie That Gives Your Pet Freedom While Keeping Them Safe

If your dog needs space to run around, this yard runner can help provide that. Rice says, “Always show your pup love and affection and give them plenty of space and exercise. Your pup will thank you for it.” This dog runner tie extends up to 100 feet in order to give your pet the ultimate freedom to play while keeping them safe in the yard. It’s durable for pets up to 125 pounds and is made with PVC coating to protect against rain.


Issue: You Haven’t Been Using A Crate To Help Train Your Dog

Solution: This Best-Selling Dog Crate That’s Super Secure and Leakproof

Alexandra Bassett, CPDT-KA, Lead Trainer & Behavior Specialist at DogSavvy, says, “A lot of pet parents think that using a crate is unfair to a dog; however, it's quite the opposite. Confining your dog in a crate when you can't supervise them keeps them out of trouble and helps them learn to hold their bladder. That's why crate training is so often emphasized when people first bring home a newly adopted dog or puppy because it helps prevent bad habits from developing and fast-tracks the housebreaking process.”

This crate is made from plastic and metal and is a good choice for new dogs. It has a slide bolt latch on the door to help your dog stay secure, and it couldn’t be easier to assemble.


Issue: You’re Letting Your Dog Eat Too Much

Solution: An Automatic Pet Feeder That Can Dispense Four Meals A Day

Dr. Sabrina Kong, DVM and veterinary consultant at WeLoveDoodles, revealed a common mistake amongst pet owners. “Unfortunately, a lot of dog owners make nowadays is overfeeding their dogs, which can not only lead to serious health consequences such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis but also to behavioral changes, causing them to be sluggish, grumpy, and mentally inactive,” Kong says. “Besides, by constantly feeding your dog and keeping them overweight you're encouraging them to see you as a mere food supplier rather than their owner or companion, which keeps you from bonding and building a meaningful relationship with your pooch.”

A pet feeder can come in handy if you’re going out for the day or for long days in the office. It allows you to easily schedule four meals per day and select the perfect portion size.


Issue: Being Inconsistent With Potty Breaks

Solution: A Disposable Grass Patch To Help Train Your Dogs To Go To The Bathroom Outdoors

According to Yau consistency is important. She says, “Be consistent with potty breaks and location. In the beginning, you’ll want to take your dog to the chosen spot every two hours. Once you’re there, say the same thing to them every time, whether it’s ‘Go potty,’ ‘Time to pee,’ or ‘Do your business.’ A marker or visual aid can also help. While you’re still teaching your dog where and when to go, don’t change the chosen location; this will confuse them. For pet parents that live in an apartment, grass potty pads can be useful and effective.”

This patch is a solid choice. Constructed with fresh sod, this absorbent mat is great at battling odors while trying to housetrain your dog. It’s also easy to dispose of when it’s no longer needed.


Issue: Not Providing Enough For Your Dog To Self-Soothe

Solution: This Cuddly Stuffed Animal That Can Be Heated To Reduce Stress

“Don’t acknowledge your dog when they initiate play or demand attention at undesirable times,” Yau tells Bustle. “Otherwise, they’ll be learning how to get what they want, whenever they want. A primary teaching for many doctors in vet school is to utilize negative reinforcement (e.g. self-soothing, redirection) rather than positive punishment (e.g. citrus deterrent sprays/shock collars) as a more effective behavioral strategy to deter undesirable behaviors.”

This HuggiePup is a great choice for pets to learn how to self-soothe, especially new puppies. Available in three snuggly designs, each toy includes a heartbeat replication that can help pets with anxiety and loneliness, which may end up curbing unwanted behavior.


Issue: Not Knowing How To Train Your Dog

Solution: This Pouch Bag That Comes With A Training Clicker For Easy Rewards

Dr. Sheena Haney, DMV and resident veterinarian for Koala Health, recommends clicker training for positive reinforcement. “Clicker training is a form of positive reinforcement dog training that helps you communicate the exact moment your dog does something you want. Not only is this a proven and highly recommended method of training, but it is fun and rewarding for you and your dog!”

This training set includes two treat pouches and two clickers, so you can always make sure they’re ready when you need them.


Issue: Walking Your Dog Is A Constant Challenge

Solution: This Head Harness That Comes In 3 Different Sizes

Haney adds, “With patient and consistent use, headcollars are a great way to train your dog not to pull on the leash.” This adjustable head harness comes in three sizes — small, medium, and large — and works wonders for training your dog to stop tugging during walks. It features a padded nose for extra comfort and is made from lightweight fabric. It might change the game in terms of neighborhood walks.


Issue: Your Dog Hasn’t Been Properly Socialized

Solution: This Amazing Book That Explains The Importance Of Puppy Socialization

Professional dog trainer Kate Perry says socialization with other dogs is crucial for training. She says, “The first step to [preventing] puppy nipping is to have playdates with appropriately aged puppies and young adult dogs, so the dogs can practice bite inhibition on each other. This will prevent them from using you as a chew toy!”

With a 4.6-star rating, this Puppy Socialization book is a great resource for pet owners and explains the importance of socialization. It comes with videos and science-backed evidence that is super helpful for any first-time dog owner.


Issue: Your Dog Is Starting To Explore Items They Shouldn’t

Solution: A Bitter Apple Spray That Will Deter Your Dog

If your dog starts chewing items around the house, Perry suggests a chewing deterrent spray. She says, “If your puppy is chewing on furniture legs, rug tassels, clothing etc., our first recommendation would be not to give them free roam so they are not able to access these items. But when they are out of their containment area, if they are drawn to wanting to chew on certain items, you can also use Grannick's Bitter, which is a chewing deterrent, made to make whatever you spray it on taste bitter and unpleasant.”


Issue: Not Knowing The Best Way To Get Through To Your Dog

Solution: A Book That Is A Great Resource For Behavioral Training

When it comes to training your dog, there are plenty of excellent guides. Setti Komaied, a veterinary technician at NVH, says, “In our vet tech companion behavior course, our instructor had us read Don't Shoot the Dog, a book by Karen Pryor. This book not only has tips and tricks on training your fur baby, but also outlines how us humans and our interactions with our companion pets can contribute to certain behavioral outputs.”

Since the book currently has a 4.6-star rating on Amazon, it looks like plenty of people have used its tips and tricks successfully.


Issue: Giving The Wrong Kind Of Chews To Your Dog

Solution: This Rubber Chew Toy With Over 56,000 Five-Star Reviews

Anita Patel, DVM, IndeVets Area Medical Director, says when it comes to chewing, “Give them alternatives to your furniture, walls, and belongings to chew on, but make sure to avoid things that can damage their teeth.” She explains, “Too often, veterinarians see fractured teeth and significant wear or bones stuck along the roof of the mouth or even GI foreign bodies because of inappropriate chew toys. Kong toys are a great way to keep pets occupied and reward them. Fill it with peanut butter, canned food, moistened kibble, or their favorite treat, and freeze it. Remember to get the appropriate size based on your pet’s weight!”


Issue: Your Dog Doesn’t Have Enough Mental Stimulation

Solution: This Interactive Dog Puzzle To Encourage Critical Thinking

Patel mentions the benefit of puzzles when it comes to mental stimulation. “Puzzles are a fantastic way to get your little critter thinking and problem solving and they get treats in the process,” she explains. “What could be better than that? There are different complexity levels to puzzles so start with the basics and work your way up as your pet becomes a more critical puzzle solver. I’m a huge fan of these Trixie Puzzles and used them on my own Beagle/Jack Russell mix who is prone to separation anxiety and wanting to go on the hunt.”


Issue: Your Dog’s Food Bowls Are Unknowingly Collecting Too Much Bacteria

Solution: A Stainless Steel Dog Bowl That Comes In Over 20 Different Bright Colors

Deciding which dog bowl to invest in can be challenging with so many different options on the market. Patel recommends opting for a stainless steel version. “Stainless steel bowls tend to harvest fewer bacteria and lack dyes that can be irritating to the skin around your pet’s chin and muzzle that can lead to secondary infection,” she explains. “Remember to clean bowls, but if you tend to forget, these, as well as ceramic bowls, are a great alternative to traditional plastic bowls which can be irritating to your dog’s skin. You can even get bowls with a silicone base to help keep those bowls in place while your pet devours every last bite.”

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