Alberta is a great place to have a dog. And dogs can certainly be wonderful companions—if they are well behaved.  A problem pet not only presents issues at home but in your condominium community as well. In fact, condominium management companies cite issues regarding pets as one of the leading complaints they hear.
According to the Calgary Humane Society, dogs cannot know which behaviour is acceptable unless you teach them. Teaching your dog specific skills and boundaries can make everyone in your household happier and improve your relationship with your neighbours.
To help you turn your dog into a better condo resident and reduce issues with your neighbours, we have provided these seven tips for correcting your dog’s problem behaviour.

1. Sign up for basic training.
If you want your dog to be an excellent pet, enrolling him in a class that teaches basic commands, such as “sit,” “down” and “stay,” is a good first step. Plus, spending time with your dog in a training class will help build a strong, respectful relationship so that future training will be easier.
2. Do all your training consistently and in a calm environment.
Anyone involved in your dog’s training should use the same commands and follow the same rules to prevent confusion. Be sure to conduct training in a peaceful and quiet place, and avoid getting your dog riled up. Always reward calm behaviour, and above all, do not reprimand your dog with physical punishment.
3. Put a stop to incessant barking.
Constant barking can be especially annoying to you and your neighbours. Never reward barking with any kind of attention. Even negative attention is better than no attention to a dog, so refrain from scolding your dog when he barks. Instead, redirect him with a simple command that is worthy of a reward, such as “sit” or “stay.” You could also try to teach him the command “speak.” Alternatively, you can wait until your dog is calm and then reward that behaviour.
Dogs need a good amount of play time, and lack of exercise can sometimes be the reason for excessive barking.  Be sure your dog is getting the exercise he needs. Eliminate some of the things that trigger his barking by closing your curtains or blinds so he cannot see outside. Of course, make sure he is supervised at all times outdoors.
Some breeds naturally bark a lot. If your dog is one of these breeds, your best solution may be to put Fido in a doggie daycare when you cannot be home with him.
4. Eliminate jumping.
Craving attention is the main reason a dog jumps, and you may inadvertently be rewarding the behaviour. Discourage jumping by ignoring him entirely when he does it. Cross your arms and turn your back. Praise him calmly once he has all four paws on the floor.
5. Prevent separation anxiety.
Dogs are very social creatures. If you go from spending a lot of time with your dog to being absent for long periods, he can develop separation anxiety. Make your entrances and departures as calm as possible, and get your dog used to your being away for short periods right from the start. If your dog is already showing signs of separation anxiety, change your routine to minimize typical triggers.
Another “trick” that often works with anxious dogs is to act like you are about to leave—but don’t go. Do the things you would normally do, like putting on your shoes or picking up your keys, and then just sit with your dog. Other techniques to help keep him calm are to leave a radio or TV on while you are gone, preferably on a soothing station at low volume, and provide some of his favorite toys.
6. Reduce other fears.
Noises such as sirens, thunder, fireworks or even vacuum cleaners can provoke fear in some dogs. Use treats, games or soothing touch to distract a fearful pet. To help your dog stay calm and relaxed during activities associated with particular events (such as fireworks on Canada Day), plan ahead. Spend the day exercising and playing with your dog before the normally stressful activity begins. Give him some favorite toys and a safe place where he can relax when the activity begins.
You can also try exposing your dog to the fear-inducing noise by recording it and playing it at a very low volume while he is doing something he enjoys, like eating or playing. Do this repeatedly for short periods, gradually increasing the volume each time. Never force your dog to remain in proximity to something that makes him fearful if he wants to leave. This will only backfire and make him more afraid than ever.
7. Get a professional involved.
You can correct many nuisance behaviors with appropriate techniques and training. Shelters and rescue groups like the Calgary Humane Society offer training tips, classes and referrals to animal behavioral experts. Take advantage of these resources if you need additional help.
Most importantly, be patient with your dog. Changing his behavior will take time, but in the long run, it will be worth it to you and to your neighbors. To get more tips on how to create and maintain a great condo community, contact FirstService Residential, Alberta’s leading condominium management company.
Wednesday October 12, 2016