Tips to Help Train an Adult Dog

While dogs tend to be an infinite source of joy, some can be a bit more difficult!

Just like we teach our kids good manners, we need to teach our pets to learn what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. Remember, dogs are not born understanding your house rules, and while most puppies will shed their bad habits by adulthood, some continue behaving the only way they know how.

However, with the right level of respect and love, you can still train an adult dog

Here are some of the most common behavioural problems in adult dogs - and how you can help change them!

1. Jumping on People

When the dog was little, everyone was probably entranced by the cute, little puppy who jumped up at them, laughing and wagging its teeny tail. Now it's a bigger dog and no-one wants his dirty paw marks all over their clothes. But the dog's behaviour is not its fault, because your loving attention has trained it to think that jumping up is a fun and rewarding thing to do.

Now you have to do the opposite from what you did when the dog was little. Instead of making eye contact and touching your pooch when it jumps, do the opposite.

Turn around and stand still completely ignoring it. Wait until he or she has all four feet on the ground and then give it a little treat. Keep doing this - it will take many, many times! - and your dog will eventually learn that it only gets a treat and your attention when it is sitting.

Remember, there is no point in shouting and pushing, because to a dog this is still attention and will only confuse it about what you want it to do.

2. Digging

Digging is natural for dogs, so changing an instinctive behaviour takes a lot of patience. You may need to keep your dog inside when you go out to limit its opportunity to dig. Keep in mind, things like turned soil is irresistible to many dogs, and it is unlikely you could stop yours digging in it if they are left alone in the garden.

To help deter a digging dog, give it plenty of exercise and lots of toys, preferably with food hidden in them, to keep it amused. Digging can be a sign of boredom, so make sure your canine pal has lots to interest it when you're not home.

Working breeds such as border collies and kelpies are more likely to get bored and find an outlet for their energy.

3. Barking

Firstly, find out what your dog is barking at and see if it something you can remove, change or fix.

Similarly, as dogs usually bark the most right after their owners leave home for the day, give your dog something to do every time you leave the house, like a chew toy stuffed with food. This will keep them occupied and may reduce the risk of barking and pining for their owner!

Finally, to help your dog break the barking habit, reward him or her often for quiet behaviour with treats. For example, if it starts barking, use a word like ‘quiet’ and reward only once your dog stops barking.  At the end of the day, you can teach an old dog new tricks - with plenty of food at the ready! 

Dr Katrina Warren is a PAWS by Blackmores ambassador. You can receive more tips about raising a healthy dog in their e-book.

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Posted by Tinisha4Report
hi Dr Harry my parents are at the breacking point of getting rid of our three dogs. 2 french buldogs and 1 labrador. they have been destroying the back yard by digging holes in the garden bed, pulling out plants, pooing all over the deck, jumping on the house, and one of the french bulldogs have even been peeing in the house. i realy worried that my dad will get rid of them we have tryed disaplening them and putting up barriers around the garden but nothing is working. i am realy desperate and need your help. WHAT DO I DO? i love my dogs and realy ddont want to get rid of them a few years back we rehomed a dog of ours and im still heart broken my dad thinks getting the therd do was a huge mistake!

Posted by Debbie1445Report
Hi Dr Harry, We have just adopted a beautiful little 1 year old Japanese Spitz. She came from living in a little apartment to our large home with a doggy door and a large yard and garden. Our problem is that she only wants to go to the toilet by the door, inside or out. She now mostly goes outside but still by the door. The smell is becoming unbearable. She has been with us for a few months now and we have tried many different strategies to encourage her to go in the garden without success. We have never seen her go to the toilet except when we are out on our daily walk. How do we untrain her from toileting by doors and train her to go in the garden? Please help, we are desperate.
Posted by Kasey110Report
HELP DOCTOR HARRY! My beautiful three year old cocker spaniel/ Labrador has anxiety. Ive had charlie sinse he was 12 months and not that i know of charlie hasnt been through any type of traumatic experiences that could be the cause of his anxiety. However, when charlie comes with anyone he doesnt know he starts barking and his back hair stands up. Sometimes he stands behind or in front of us. It comes across as a protective action and he can settle if he sees us interacting with the stangers but not all the time. He also can be out of our sight; standing at the door yelping and crying. I have no idea what to do and i would hate to think he is feeling this much distress! Any tips or advice would be appreciated! Thanks, from a girl who doesnt want her dog to be the scary dog in public..