How Do You Turn A Bad Dog Into A Good Dog?
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So, you are dealing with a bad dog. And you are wanting to turn your bad dog into a good dog. What should you do?
Socialization: All dogs need continuing socialization throughout their lives. Many people socialize their young puppies (however, many bad dogs were never socialized). Dogs that are socialized are more SOCIABLE. They get along better with others, they are less stressed and less neurotic, and they learn good behaviors by practicing them. However, the less you socialized your dog up to this point, the longer it will take to make a dog sociable. Dogs that have been severely neglected might never become completely sociable. One obstacle to socializing are dogs that can’t even walk on a leash. If a dog can’t walk on a leash, then they need that completed so that you can get the dog out and about. Just remember: even old dogs need continuing socialization. It is a lifetime of good experiences that make a dog better and better, and a lifetime of bad experiences that make a dog neurotic.
House Training: Many bad dogs are not house trained. They pee in the home. They poop in the home. They poop all over the yard. The grass is burnt out. In order to turn a bad dog into a good dog, the dog must be house trained. You are going to have to start over, as if the dog was an 8 week old puppy knowing nothing, and then you need to unravel months or years of bad habits, and then develop in your dog good habits. Yes, you can house train an 8 year old dog. I’ve house trained many old dogs.
Manners: One of the worst traits of a bad dog is that the dog is miserable to be around. They are fearful, aggressive, rude, loud barkers, destructive, and so forth. It is no fun entering into a home where the people have a bad dog: jumping, sniffing your crotch, grabbing at your clothes, barking, running around, chasing the kids, running out the front door, stealing food, and destroying stuff. As with house training, you have to start all over again from the beginning. You have to treat the dog as if it was an 8 week old puppy, and do it all over again.
Supervision and Containment: Bad dogs are allowed to be bad dogs. They are left to learn bad habits, and to practice bad habits. So, in order to turn a bad dog into a good dog, you need to have a better supervision plan. The dog needs MORE time with people, and that time needs to be SUPERVISED. Your dog needs LOTS of supervised time. And when the dog is not able to be supervised, the dog needs to be contained in a pet safe and comfortable area so the dog can’t practice bad habits.
Medical Care: Bad dogs often have medical problems. Medical problems can drive dogs to do bad things. So, a complete checkup is necessary for all bad dogs. You need to ask the veterinarian to do a deeper examination than normal, looking for diseases, pain, infections, injuries, hormone imbalances, and so forth. I’ve seen many bad dogs become good dogs after medical causes were diagnosed and treated. This also includes proper grooming. A dog that is uncomfortable in it’s own coat will be frustrated and behave abnormally.
Obedience Training: All bad dogs need a complete obedience overhaul in order to become good dogs. Most bad dogs have had very little obedience training. No bad dog is going to become an acceptable good dog without completing basic obedience. That means going from A to Z, from beginning obedience to off leash control. And YOU need to participate in the lessons. A bad dog is created by its owners. So the owners need to change as much as the dog needs to change. Without that kind of work, then forget about changing the dog. If you, as a human, won’t change, why should the dog change? You’ve blown it with this dog, or someone else blew it before you got the dog, and that now has to be fixed.
Obviously, you need expert help when changing a bad dog into a good dog. If a dog is impossibly irritating and annoying, that isn’t going to now magically change. It is going to require the hiring of a professional dog trainer and behaviorist to sort out what is going on in the home, with the people, and with the dog. Only then will you be able to turn your bad dog into a good dog.
Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.