Manchester Veterinary Clinic

156 Spencer Street
Manchester, CT 06040


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Guiding Behavior

 Basic Obedience and Beyond

This Westie pup is well on the way to learning the rules - Manchester Veterinary Clinic - CT - Trusted Vets For Your Pets

Behavioral problems are a leading cause of owner dissatisfaction, pet abandonment and worse. Guiding your dog’s behavior is a lifelong process.

• Be your dog’s leader first, friend second, much like parenting children 
• Give your dog rules to live by; this creates a framework of expectations for your dog that reduces uncertainty and anxiety; this makes for a happier pet 
• Sign up for puppy and obedience classes; we cannot overemphasize the benefits of working with a trainer in a distracting environment


Deference / Nothing is Free

This is the single MOST important leadership and training technique.

• Teach your dog to sit and wait for everything; your dog will then learn to sit and wait when it wants something· View this just like a child asking “Please” for something rather than just demanding it (and even worse, getting it) 
• Refer to our handout on deference training for more details


Appropriate Play and Entertainment

Dogs need things to do or “jobs” or they may come up with activities you may not like.

  • Provide adequate physical exercise as well as mental stimulation
  • Teach hide and seek and other games
  • Play fetch
  • Offer “busy toys” such as rawhide and other consumable chews (with supervision), food-filled KongsBob-A-Lot and other food-containing toys, when you can’t be entertaining
  • Maintain a toy basket and rotate what’s out to keep toys novel and interesting
  • Recognize the downside of any tug of war game or mouthy roughhousing

Jack loves the variety of toys he has - Manchester Veterinary Clinic - CT - Trusted Vets For Your Pets



Timing is everything.  Reward good behavior immediately (within seconds) or your dog will have moved on and you’ll be rewarding the next activity

  • Supply plenty of praise and positive attention as readily available rewards
  • Furnish food rewards which can be extremely helpful in getting and keeping the attention of pups and even older dogs
  • Pick food rewards that are small and handy like Cheerios

Toy rotation is a great idea, when you have this many to choose from - Manchester Veterinary Clinic - CT - Trusted Vets For Your Pets


Consequences For Unacceptable Behavior

Yes, Windsor, you are guilty as charged - Manchester Veterinary Clinic - CT - Trusted Vets For Your Pets

You can’t always just ignore bad behavior and reward the good but make any consequences fit the crime.

  • Do not hit or resort to other physical punishments; dog brains are not programmed to learn anything more than fear and anxiety from such acts
  • Make sure consequences are well-timed to be effective; if it didn’t literally just happen, you can’t effectively punish it
  • Consider appropriate consequences such as: take away attention (don’t even look down at the puppy jumping on you, turn away); redirect to a positive behavior (if the pup is chewing on your hand yelp loudly and hand over an appropriate chew object); time out (puppy running around out of control can be leashed and made to lie down or confined in a small room or crate with a toy)


Bad Habits

What your dog is allowed to do one day he/she will do better the next, especially if they think they’ve been rewarded for it. Make training easier by deciding early on what is or is not acceptable and then have everyone be consistent

  • Recognize how bad habits develop and how bad behavior can be inadvertently rewarded; we’ve listed some of the more common bad habits
  • Jumping up (reaching down to pet or push away can both be rewards)
  • Mouthing, biting, nipping (don’t let pups teethe on you unless you don’t mind them possibly being mouthy when they’re big)
  • Begging at table or in kitchen (once you start the association between kitchens and food it’s hard to break so be careful with offering treats when you are cooking or even just in the kitchen.)
  • Getting on furniture (decide early on what’s okay or not okay)
  • Sleeping in bed (decide early on where your dog will sleep)
  • Attention seeking (think child screaming at you while you’re on the phone)
  • Getting into garbage or other places they don’t belong (part of puppy-proofing)
  • Playing keep away (if you have to chase, the dog wins)
  • Pulling on the leash as they walk (who’s leading who?)


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Manchester Veterinary Clinic, Inc - Veterinarians - Manchester - CT - Trusted Vets For Your Pets