I just returned from a trip out of town to visit my wife's family for Thanksgiving. Fortunately our friends and family that we stay with allow us to bring our dogs with us when we spend the night. We also spent the last night in a hotel that allows dogs. We even brought our three dogs to Thanksgiving dinner. Their behavior always makes me very proud. They were gentle with the kids, they did not try and steal food and they played appropriately with my brother-in-law's puppy.
What is the secret to having a dog that acts appropriately in various situations? Time, attention, planning and exercise. There are no shortcuts to a well behaved dog.
Overall I think most people understand that dogs take a lot of time and attention. Thankfully there have only been a few phone calls over the years with someone that truly did not understand the time requirements and blamed their dog for his bad behavior. There are frequent phone calls with people that know that their dog needs something, but they don't know exactly how to provide them the proper mixture of time and attention to alleviate the problems that they are witnessing.
Here are some tips that will hopefully help alleviate some of the frustration that you are experiencing.
Add Fifteen Minutes More in Morning and Evening
Most people know that their dog needs more time, but they have trouble finding it with their busy schedules. For the happiness of your dog, you can find an extra fifteen minutes (or more) before you go to work and before you got to bed. If you train him one of those times and then give heavy-duty exercise the other, this could make all the difference between a happy and a bored, misbehaved dog. Most dogs need a minimum of 60-90 minutes of training and exercise per day.
Stuff Kongs for Meals
I frequently write about the value of stuffing Kongs or other toys and feed meals this way. This is a fantastic way of providing more physical and mental stimulation for your dog. Combine it with hiding Kongs around the house for even more time-intensive acitivities.
Have you ever taken your dog to a new neighborhood for walk? Try it. You might be amazed at how stimulated and attentive your dog is during the walk. He will also be more tired afterwards due to all of the new sights, smells and sounds that your dog experiences.
This can be accomplished during field trips. If your dog barks at people, dogs, noises or motion from moving objects like trucks or motorcycles you should spend the time to socialize him to those triggers. Often dogs get left home because they bark or are aggressive. If you slowly desensitize your dog to these events then it is much more likely that you will be able to bring him with you instead of leaving him at home.
TrainingUse some time to work on any of the issues that cause frustration. If your dog steals food off of counters, work on Counter Surfing, if he jumps on people, work on Jumping. Use my video lessons or find a quality positive reinforcement training class in your area. If you ignore problems, they won't just naturally go away, they will probably get worse. The time you spend is an investment that will pay off!