Photo by Tanya Gorelova

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of fun and chaos with dogs. After all, their silly traits make them more lovable for a reason. 

A dog’s antics can be challenging, plus they have varying temperaments, which are often synonymous with their breed. However, these adorable creatures and their occasional antics are worth studying.

What if a book is written to tell a story about fictional dogs with unique personalities? That’s where you learn about five dogs and their antics in the book “Dogs with Attitude” by Yvonne Bronstorph. Their energetic and happy nature drew us to them in the first place. And just like how we treat our human children, the same patient should be extended to our canine family.

What if a dog’s antics get out of control?

Understand their behavior. Dogs with attitude may act out due to boredom, lack of exercise, or attention-seeking. Try to identify the underlying cause of their antics. Provide physical and mental stimulation: Ensure your dog receives regular exercise and engages them in activities stimulating their mind, such as puzzle toys or training sessions.

Set clear boundaries and rules. Establish consistent rules and boundaries for your dog. Reward good behavior and discourage undesirable actions through positive reinforcement and redirection. Invest time in training your dog to follow basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it.” Training helps establish a bond, reinforces positive behavior, and provides mental stimulation.

Do not unintentionally reward your dog’s antics with attention or treats. Instead, redirect their focus to an appropriate activity or behavior. If your dog’s antics persist or become problematic, consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can provide personalized guidance.

What are the common reasons for a dog’s antics?

Boredom. Dogs may engage in antics if they lack mental stimulation or activities to keep them occupied. They might exhibit behaviors like excessive barking, chewing, or digging.

Lack of exercise. Insufficient physical activity can lead to pent-up energy, prompting dogs to engage in naughty behaviors to release it. They may become hyperactive, excessively jump, or engage in destructive chewing.

Attention-seeking. Dogs are social animals and may resort to antics to gain attention from their owners. They may bark, jump, or engage in attention-seeking behaviors to elicit a response.

Anxiety or stress. Dogs experiencing anxiety or stress may exhibit antics as a coping mechanism. This can include behaviors like excessive pacing, whining, or destructive chewing.

Breed tendencies. Certain dog breeds have innate characteristics and instincts that may contribute to specific antics. For example, herding breeds might nip at ankles or attempt to herd family members, while terriers may exhibit digging behaviors.

Why should dogs engage in physical activity?

Physical Health. Regular exercise helps maintain a dog’s physical fitness, promotes a healthy weight, and supports cardiovascular health. It strengthens muscles, improves flexibility, and enhances overall physical well-being.

Mental Stimulation. Physical activity provides mental stimulation for dogs. It allows them to explore their environment, engage their senses, and experience new sights, sounds, and smells. This mental stimulation helps prevent boredom and can contribute to a happier and more fulfilled dog.

Energy Release. Dogs, especially active breeds or younger individuals, need energy to be expended. Regular exercise provides an outlet for this energy, reducing the likelihood of pent-up energy manifesting as destructive behaviors or excessive hyperactivity.

Behavior Management. Physical activity can be an effective tool in managing and preventing behavioral issues. When dogs receive sufficient exercise, they are more likely to be calmer and better behaved. Regular exercise can help alleviate problems such as excessive barking, chewing, digging, or separation anxiety.

Bonding and Socialization. Engaging in physical activities like walks, runs, or playtime strengthens the bond between dogs and their owners. It provides an opportunity for quality time together, enhances trust, and deepens the human-dog relationship.

How to avoid reinforcing rewards for a dog’s antics?

Introduce alternatives. Instead of focusing on the unwanted antics, redirect your dog’s attention and energy towards more appropriate behaviors. For example, if your dog jumps on people for attention, teach them to sit or offer a toy as an alternative behavior to receive attention and rewards.

Use positive reinforcement for good behavior. Reward your dog for the display of good behavior. Provide treats, praise, or affection immediately after they engage in positive actions like sitting, lying down, or being calm. This helps them associate good behavior with positive outcomes.

Time-outs. Your dog’s antics persist despite ignoring them; you can employ a brief rest by calmly and gently removing them from the situation. This communicates that the unwanted behavior leads to losing attention or access to preferred activities.

Be consistent. Consistency is vital to avoiding unintended reinforcement. Ensure all family members or individuals interacting with your dog follow the same rules and respond consistently to their antics. Inconsistent responses can confuse your dog and make it harder for them to understand acceptable behaviors.

Reinforcing behaviors inadvertently can happen unknowingly, so being mindful and consistent in your responses will help discourage unwanted antics while promoting positive behavior in your dog.