Seven Pet Habits to Nip in the Bud



June 9, 2022

We pet people love our furry family members, but they can have some less-than-ideal habits. These are often easily correctible if we put forth a little time, effort, and consistency. Whether they’re just young or have some habits ingrained in them from a rough past, a little training and TLC from you can go a long way to keeping your relationship smooth.

Early intervention is always best, whether your little one’s quirk is jumping, biting, running off, or not coming when called. Committing from day one to implementing “come,” “sit,” and “down” commands goes a long way. But if your problems surpass that, here are some tips for some of the most common maladies.

  1. Barking for Attention

Say you’re trying to hammer out some work, but your persistent little pup has ball on the mind. He sets his ball down by you and is quiet for a moment, but then rudely barks. If barking to get your attention is a habitual thing with your pup, you may want to nip it in the bud.

Puppies, especially, like to push the limits to see what they can get away with. The best way to deal with this is to not let their action get the desired result. So, don’t reward your dog by tossing the ball when he barks. Don’t even look at your pet when they’re doing something undesirable to get your attention. Walk away and ignore him until he’s quiet. Then maybe give a simple command like “sit” or “down,” and when he does that, absent barking, reward him by tossing the ball.


  1. Being a Pest During Mealtimes

First of all, get all your family members on board with not rewarding the four-legged family member’s mooching by slipping even one little bit of food. Even one morsel will give them mixed messages and get them hooked on staying around.

Get them a crate they can be closed in during mealtime, or a bed or mat that you can give the “place” command and send them to. Give them a special chew treat or toy in any of these so they won’t beg or be underfoot.


  1. Jumping

Does your dog give over-exuberant greetings? This issue will rarely go away on its own or with time. The best time to address the problem is when it starts. Don’t let your dog “practice” this bad behavior.

Even if you don’t mind your dog jumping on *you* when you come in the door, others probably will mind. Think about visitors with little kids, or elderly family members. Try petting your dog only when he’s sitting. Get everyone in the home onboard with this. If you push, yell at, or even make eye contact with your dog when he jumps on you, you’re rewarding the behavior with attention. Just teach him to sit, make it exciting, and reward him heavily whenever he does it. Have him sit when people come in the door, and maybe even at other times when he gets excited, like when putting his leash on or taking it off, before eating, and before throwing his ball.

It might help to get some of his energy out before guests come over.


  1. Chasing the Little Ones

Does your pup go a little over the top when playing with tiny humans, even knocking them over? If he chases a child, say no and immediately remove him from the yard. Remove him at the first offense consistently.


  1. Overprotective of the Food Bowl

Growling over the food bowl is a warning from your pet. But letting it go un-checked could lead to biting. If the problem has just started, try putting a tiny bit of food in your pet’s bowl, then keep coming and putting little bits more in, so they see that you coming near is a fine thing. Remember you’re aiming here to correct any aggression in your pet. Don’t make a practice of mettling with them during mealtime, and make sure your kids are aware of that rule too.


  1. Jumping on the Couch

Maybe this is fine with you. Or maybe you want to train your dog to jump up only when given permission. To do this, whenever he gets on the couch, gently take him by the collar and get him off. To invite him, have him sit next to the couch, and if wanted, pat the couch. When he jumps up, praise him and give him a treat.


  1. Nipping

Take a proactive approach on this during your dog’s first two years of life. Also know that puppy nipping is exploratory and very typical. When playing with your puppy, allow him to softly play-bite, but if he gets too aggressive, give a sharp yelp and pull away. That mimics what another dog would do. But if your dog’s not getting the idea, redirect him to an appropriate chewing outlet. This should always be a dog toy, not a household item. Make sure the toys are big enough that they can bite them without biting you. And consider keeping tug-of-war out of your relationship.


Don’t Inadvertently Feed into Trauma-Related Habits

Some pets unfortunately come with some baggage if they’ve had a rough past. So who can fault them for having some bad habits as a result? But there are definitely things you can do to ease your little one’s stress and smooth over undesirable habits.

If your pet seems to be in constant or severe fear, this can be problematic and could escalate into aggression. If they tremble, lower their head, run away, hide or back into corners, keep their tail between their legs, urinate, become immobilized, bark, or growl, you can step in and rewire their thinking. When they encounter the stimuli that makes them act that way, don’t jump in and comfort them. Just act nonchalant, like nothing unusual is going on, and direct their attention back to you with a command or a toy.

And keep dog insurance in your corner! For less than $1 a day with Bivvy, your pup can be protected in case of covered accidents, diagnostic treatment, x-rays, surgery, hospitalization, and more. As you endeavor to nip your pet’s bad habits and establish a healthy lifelong bond, have affordable pet insurance on your side from the get-go. Bivvy pet insurance is here to help. Happy habit-nipping!