We know all dogs are different - what works for one may not work for another one and everyone's training philosophy is different. These tips are some basic tips to try with your dog if you are struggling with some basic behavior issues.
If they fix the problem yay! If not, reach out and let us know a little more about your specific dog/situation as the basic tips offered here may need to be adjusted for your specific dog!
For backyard nuisance barking of your dogs OR your neighbor's dogs: anti-bark birdhouses are a device that looks like a birdhouse and can be hung in a tree close to the problem area. They usually have a 50-foot range and can be set to let out an ultrasonic tone with mild barking, medium barking or only to correct the loudest barking!
For alert barking"hey someone is here!" that just continues too long: remember to first always praise for the initial bark- that is their job after all and then give a quiet command (the command doesn't matter, just be consistent with the command you choose- hush/don't speak/that will do) and if they do not immediately stop barking spritz them directly in the face with a spray bottle filled with half water and half vinegar. You want the spray nozzle set halfway between a stream and a mist. The second they are quiet (it should be right about the second they catch the mist) praise them!! Lots of praise!
If they begin again, give the command again and correct again. Never use the spray bottle as a threat- try to keep it out of sight as much as possible. You want your dog to think you have it even when they cannot see it and that it magically appears when you need it. Do not use this for older dogs who have cataracts as any spray towards their face can irritate that. If you have a dog that hates all water, just water in the spray bottle should be effective!
The key to preventing destructive chewing is always having appropriate chew toys available, different sizes, different consistencies as a puppy's chewing needs can vary from day to day. Older dogs that excessively chew can have a nutritional lack or simply have just gotten in the habit of chewing. Excessive chewing in older dogs can also be a behavior borne of boredom, first step is to begin fixing this is of course exercise and alleviating boredom- the second step is getting some new exciting chew toys. Kong is an excellent brand and can be interactive if filled with treats, etc. to keep the dog busy. Bully sticks are great for some dogs as are Himalayan dog chews (the original is best and are comprised of yak milk, lime and salt) avoid pig ears and rawhides as they can be very problematic to the digestion if swallowed! Get a large jar of Vick's Vapor Rub and have your dog smell it. Young dogs will usually lick it initially and then decide they hate it- older dogs usually hate it immediately! Follow them around trying to get them to smell it until they are actively avoiding it and now that they have formed a strong negative association with the smell, you can smear it on anything they MUST not chew (siding, baseboards, coffee tables, etc.). The nice thing about this is it does not evaporate and is there until you wipe it off. For avid chewers you may need to re-apply it every few days for a week or two until you can break that chewing habit!
Bolting out of doors:
Many dogs see an open door and see it as an opportunity to bolt! Out the front door is appealing and forbidden- the trick it to stop the bolting and remove the mystery and appeal. First step, attach a 10–12-foot rope to the dog's collar/harness and let it drag (tie some knots in it if you have a large fast dog) make sure you have good flat shoes on and open the door- as your dog goes to bolt, give the command wait and stomp on the line and pull your dog back into the house- firmly and then praise! Now, here's the important part, DO NOT shut the door. Praise the dog once they are back inside!
Keep the door open and if the dog goes to bolt again, repeat the same process and again - do not shut the door- thus starting to remove the appeal of the outdoors. Only once the dog is just looking out and not trying to get out can you shut the door. Repeat this process often, always praise once the dog is back inside.
Once the dog is doing well with this and that "bolting mentality" seems to be dramatically lessened, hide around the corner of the house/entry way/fence and have a family member "accidentally" leave the door open, once the dog sees that no one is there and the door got left open they may try to bolt- if they do immediately jump out, step on the rope and pull them back into the house. Do this over and over until the dog no longer sees an open door as an invitation to bolt!
Only once the dog is doing very well and you feel the bolting has stopped can you begin shortening the rope (cut off 1-2 feet every few days). When only a few inches of the rope is left, leave it on their collar as at that point it has become a psychological tool.
"Reactivity" aka the precursor to aggression:
All living things are reactive. Plants are reactive to water and sunshine, cats are reactive to being petted, all dogs are reactive. To food, affection, other dogs, etc. Border Collies are reactive to cows, German Shorthairs are reactive to birds, etc. The last few years aggression has been relabeled as "reactivity".
Even some trainers are now using the term, possibly to soften the harsh term of "aggression". Aggression has many stages; the first stage is often barking and lunging-if we can stop it at this first stage often we can stop it from progressing further.
Dogs use barking/growling to boost their adrenaline to be able to accelerate and become physical with that aggression. If we can stop it at the barking/growling stage, it often stops that adrenaline boost and removes the desire to move to the next level of aggression. If you have a dog that is showing this first stage of aggression initially address all barking, snarling, growling, etc. as simply a barking issue vs a precursor to aggression. Get a spray bottle fill it with half water, half vinegar. Anytime your dog barks, growls, or snarls give a command "hush", "don't speak ", etc. and immediately spray them with the spray bottle. You want the nozzle set halfway between a stream and a mist directly towards his face. The second they've stopped praise them! Lots and lots of praise! Never use the spray bottle as a threat, keep it out of sight as much as possible. You want them to think it magically appears when you need it. All correction is based on a formula of 1 part correction, 2 parts praise so the praise always must outweigh the correction. The first time your dog starts to bark and then stops themselves (and usually ducks to avoid the spray) give tons of praise as it means they're connecting their behavior with the correction.
You may need to keep a light leash/rope attached to their collar/harness and just let it drag behind them. This is helpful to stop them from being able to charge up on people as well as once they realize they're being corrected for barking they may bark and then run away from the correction. Having a leash dragging is great so you can step on it to prevent them from running from the correction and subsequent praise. The praise is integral to this process so always make sure the second they've stopped barking/growling to give tons of praise! If this barking/growling is fear based still correct in the manner above AND do not allow them to run away from the people they are fearful of. Don't let those people invade their space, your dog has a right to their own "bubble" but keeping them in the same area lets them observe the person/people they are fearful of and get accustomed to them without being forced to interact with them.
It is our natural reaction to comfort a dog when they show fear when unfortunately, all we are doing by comforting them is reconfirming that fear. I equate it to first day of kindergarten... if we comfort and reassure a child over and over our child begins to realize this must be something to be afraid of vs telling them to have fun and we will see them at pickup time. Dogs and children base so much of their response off ours. Comforting is basically telling them this is a big deal, and they have a reason to be afraid.
Anytime a dog shows fear of anything that you do not want them afraid of, instead of reassuring and comforting just pretend you don't notice at all and carry on as normal. If we act like there's nothing at all out of the ordinary, over time they will begin to look to us to see our reaction in an unfamiliar setting.
I only comfort my own dogs over cars and snakes! I have instilled fear in every dog I have ever had simply by comforting them when they are too close to a running vehicle or if we see a snake no matter how small!This does take time, patience and consistency and overriding our instinct to comfort!
Dogs can have actual motion sickness until about 9 months old. After that it is usually anxiety driven nasusea caused by having had motion sickness in the past. To ease the anxiety portion of this begin by several times per day getting in your car with your dog as if you were going somewhere and instead of leaving, listen to music, return emails, catch up on some reading, etc until the dog calms down. Then shut off the car, get your dog out and go back inside. While you're in the car don't acknowledge any fear they're showing, just act like you're oblivious to them panicking, etc. In this way you are demonstrating by by your calm attitude that this is a normal occurence and nothing to stress over. Do this several times per day as time permits. You should notice that the time it takes them to calm gets shorter and shorter. Once they seem to be doing well with that stage, then drive to the end of the road/around the block and back home. Once they doing well with that, increase the distance you drive until that anxiety is gone altogether.You can give them some melatonin 15-20 (talk to your vet about whaty dosage is right for your dog) minutes prior to this may help take the edge off of that anxiety if it's fairly severe. If the sickness (vomiting, extreme salivating) still persists look into giving some themm some anti nausea medication prior as well. Your vet should be able to either prescribe something or suggest an over-the-counter anti nausea medication.