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Dog Training; What Habits Can't Be Broken

Updated on October 1, 2010

Dogs are great and many of us love a dog in spite of it's shortcomings. However, potential or currently frustrated owners should be aware of an uphill, if not impossible, battle they may be fighting. In my personal experience with dogs, and chumming around with a friend of mine who happens to be a dog trainer for 13 years now, I have realized some traits are hopeless feats.

1. Nervous habits; nipping, chewing, digging, pawing, excessive barking, jumping, and piddling (small dribbles of pee). These are tricky habits to get serious about because many owners accept some of these traits and are still reasonably happy with their dogs. Some breeds are prone to some of these habits so owners need to decide if these are things they can live with. Also, many puppies display these traits and completely outgrow them. It's a chance you take if you notice these traits early.

The problem with nervous habits in dogs is it's mostly a mental issue and not all of us are dog whisperers or hold a degree in dog psychology. Believe it or not some dogs are not good matches with certain people, and this leads to a frustrated human and a dog that doesn't quite know how to behave around the owner and therefore, displays several nervous habits. In this case, if the owner doesn't change, and let's face it most people won't even change for their loved ones, then the dog will continue down an unhappy and nervous path. Not to mention a destructive path for it's owner with piddled on carpet, chewed up furniture, and holes dug in every corner of your yard.

If you take on a dog with nervous habits, prepare for a lot of work without much, if any, outcome. For each of these traits I mentioned above, there are several methods people use to alleviate or lessen them and you will probably have to go through every method before finally finding one that sorta works.

2. Dislike of Children; Most professionals, including dog trainers and vets, will suggest you re-home a dog who does not get along with your child. Training and patience is not the answer. The outcome of something going wrong is far worse than taking any chances at all or riding it out. Besides, a child's first experience with dogs shouldn't be filled with uneasiness and uncertainty.

On a personal note, I had to rehome our 6 year old Chihuahua for this very reason. He always ran away from my toddler or stood his ground and growled at her, and she never hurt him. Some dogs don't like the unpredictability of toddlers and this trait won't go away with time. The vet asked me if I was waiting until our dog attacked my child, and then I knew it was time to say goodbye to our little dog.

3. Thievery: dogs are scroungers and thieves by nature and this trait may be more prominent in some breeds than others. One thing is for certain, it will not go away with any amount of training and hoping and praying. From a psychological standpoint, thievery is instant reward because they steal an item of desire and since they were sly about it, there is no instant punishment; punishment comes too late when the owner finally discovers the stolen (and ruined) item.

4. Begging: Just like thievery, begging is instinct for dogs- both habits are how they got food in the wild before they became pets. Once a dog tastes scraps from the table, they'll be begging for more. Unfortunately, this is near impossible to train out of them.

5. Stubborn Personality:Just like children, puppies are born with unique personalities and dispositions. I've known a few impossibly stubborn dogs among other personality traits that I wouldn't like even if they were otherwise the best dog in the world. Puppies that squirm or try to nip when held by the scruff of the neck are sure bets they will be defiant. Of course I wouldn't give away my child who has her unique, some undesirable, traits that drive me nuts. That's the difference between our pets and family though. If there is a personality trait that you absolutely can't live with in a dog, it is best to re-home them.

Caesar Milan, The Dog whisperer, would agree that a major mistake people make is treating their pets like people and assigning them human emotions. Pets can seem like they're part of the family, but they're not familyin a direct sense. I once owned a puppy for about 3 weeks before I realized it had a defiant attitude that wasn't easing with professional training or my extra time and patience. I decided to re-home her because I was certain somebody else would find her personality endearing. It wouldn't have done myself or the puppy any good to remain unhappy for the next 15 years. Having a puppy or new dog is like dating; you're not married to it and you wouldn't get married to someone you weren't happy with.


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    • arun125 profile image

      arun125 7 years ago from chandigarh

      I like pets we are online supliaers and low prices you will find all the pet medications your pet needs at more discount prices.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      dahoglund~ yes I've heard about siberian huskies. If yo are stubborn then you are a perfect match for that breed of dog. They are a beautiful dog do I imagine worth some extra effort.

      doitforher~ thanks for stopping by. I agree. training a dog is easier than training the owner. Some people and families aren't meant for dogs. Others don't read up on the breed and realize, for instance, barking is very hard to train out of a chihuahua. That is the case for my dog, but we still have him and have learned to live with this inborn trait after only ;)) 8 years of trying to train him out of it.

      I used to watch Caesar Milan the Dog whisperer shows and he had a few about re-homing. It was a good experience for everyone involved, dog included.

    • profile image

      DoItForHer 7 years ago

      I don't understand why people have a hard time with the most mundane, simple training, but they do. While I don't like when people re-home animals because they chose not to take the needed steps to care for their animals, you make an excellent point.

      Re-homing an animal is a better for both the owner and the animal in question rather than keeping an animal that isn't being handled properly. Realize your limitations and do what is best for the whole family.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      We have a Siberian Husky so I can more or less repeat what pgrundy says. They are a stubborn breed but I am Swedish and so are we.

    • shamelabboush profile image

      shamelabboush 8 years ago

      Lucky me I am a big fan of cats. They are adorable, clean and neat pets. Well-researched hub dear.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      hilly chism~ Research on a breed is good advice but sometimes that doesn't even help because dogs within the same breed can vary quite a bit too. dogs as accessories- hate that!!

      pgrundy~ you are either lucky to have a great version of that breed (Malamutes-beautiful dogs) or you ARE very hardheaded. I've known two chihuahuas that were terrific around small kids, but ours wasn't and typically that breed isn't. But I'll refer back to one of my points in the hub that some people are not good matches for some dogs- maybe how we explain chemistry between people can also explain a chemistry between dog and owner. The best chemistry is when they bring out the best in each other.

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      pgrundy 8 years ago

      Good advice. We have a malamute. They have a rep for being very stubborn and hard to train, but they also really love people, so we haven't had any trouble. Our dog is a sweetie, but I have heard from other malamute owners that they are hard headed.

      Maybe I'm just MORE hardheaded. LOL!

    • Hilly Chism profile image

      Hilly Chism 8 years ago from Holland

      Very good advice, too many people these days buy dogs without knowing what they are getting themselves into. Impressionable kids are buying them as fashion accessories just because they've seen their celebrity Idol's do the same.