Treating Your Dog: Here are 5 expert tips on how to spoil your adorable dog without encouraging bad behaviour 🐶

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We are a nation of pet lovers and, as Christmas approaches, many owners will be wanting to treat their four-legged friend even more than normal.

Recent research from online retailer Studio has revealed that Scotland has some of the most spoilt four-legged friends in the UK, with dogs in Glasgow given more treats than in any other city.

It’s great to treat our pooches – and a little reward can make puppy training much easier – but too much of anything can be damaging.

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If a dog gets used to constant rewards it may develop behavioural issues so, as with much in life, moderation is key.

Pet behaviour and nutrition expert Anna Webb has teamed up with Studio to reveal some top tips for avoiding bad behaviour when treating their pooch this festive season.

So here are five expert-approved tips to avoid difficult behaviour when treating your pup to a new toy.

Find the right toy

Choosing the appropriate toys for your dog’s age, breed, and personality type is important. Ultimately, dogs are fun loving animals that enjoy punctuating their day with proactive games, like fetch and tug, that tap into their natural instincts. This in turn helps to build trust, focus, and communication with their owners.

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Spoiling a dog to often can cause behavioural issues, but if you follow a few tips you can treat them in a responsible manner.Spoiling a dog to often can cause behavioural issues, but if you follow a few tips you can treat them in a responsible manner.
Spoiling a dog to often can cause behavioural issues, but if you follow a few tips you can treat them in a responsible manner.

Take care with too many squeaky toys that can easily overexcite and ignite a prey drive or biting behaviour. Instead, opt for interactive toys that encourage calmer, safer play with owners.

Know the signs of bad behaviour

During the Christmas period, you need to be aware of your dog becoming overwhelmed from too much excitement, pressure to play, or by a strange environment.

Dogs give us signals like yawning, lip licking, or their head turning away, which can mean your pooch may need time out before enjoying their new toy. In these cases, give your pup space to calm down, and you’ll be less likely to see them misbehave.

By positively rewarding an alternative good behaviour, like a sit, helps the dog learn how to engage in play or take a treat in an appropriate manner.

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Engage with your pup during play

If you’re finding that your dog is indifferent to toys or loses interest in them quickly, perhaps favouring destructive behaviour in the home, then work to make their play time more engaging.

All dogs love to use their nose, so tap into your dog’s keen sense of smell by offering enrichment toys where dogs use their problem-solving skills to release food treats. This will keep them stimulated while also helping to reduce frustration, building confidence and mental dexterity.

Avoid possession guarding

Offering dogs safe and appropriate chews helps them settle and be calm. This is because the chewing process releases happy hormones and acts as a boredom buster, as well as helping keep their teeth clean.

However, you don’t want to encourage any unwanted possession or resource guarding behaviour. That’s why you should regularly swap chews to avoid your pup ‘hoarding’ a particular one, growling or biting to guard it.

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Dogs deserve treats and toys all year round

Trained dogs are happy dogs, making for happier families. From puppyhood onwards, good behaviour is learnt with consistency and positive reinforcement. This is where treats and toys feature as tools to get the best out of your dog; whether it’s a simple sit, taking a treat gently, or mastering the elusive recall.

By incorporating toys into your dog’s playtime throughout their lives and not just special occasions, such as Christmas or their birthday, you’ll help avoid over excitement when treating them to a special something.

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