What To Do if Your Dog is Going Through the Terrible Twos

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Question submitted by Casey

My in-laws just adopted a 2-year-old basset hound mix. She’s a great dog, but she seems to be going through the terrible twos. She is very food-focused. She begs at the table and has at one point jumped onto the table and stolen food while dinner was being prepared. Also, she wants to chew on buttons, and despite the fact that she has chew toys, she tries to chew on your elbows as well. At first, I thought this might be because she had to go out and do her business, but then I decided it wasn’t. So, how do we correct this behavior?

Terry’s Answer

Casey,

This dog does seem to be going through the terrible twos and checking to see what the boundaries are in the new home. I would have your in-laws decide a place that is her “not to cross” place while the family eating and not let her cross that boundary. When she does cross it, walk gently into her and say “back” until she is where she is supposed to be. Then have her sit or down in that place. If they want to give her a stuffed Kong or toy to motivate her to stay there, that’s ok. The key to making this successful is consistency. Soon, when the humans sit at the table to eat, she will just go lay down at her place. Also, remind everyone to not feed her from the table. If she’s getting rewarded for doing it, you can’t really get mad at her. As far as the chewing on buttons and elbows, let her know that it’s not allowed. Say a loud high pitched “ouch” (to startle her out of the behavior) and redirect her to a toy. Also, if she’s on the couch, invite her to get “off”  She will learn what behaviors are acceptable to get couch time, and what isn’t. Good luck!

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at FourontheFloor-Dogtraining.com and on Facebook.

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