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Behavioral Tips for Dogs

Training a dog takes a lot of effort, diligence, and patience, and sometimes it can be difficult to know where to begin. Some things to consider include correcting behaviors that are undesirable, preventing boredom (as bored dogs are prone to chew or dig), and using positive reinforcement for good behaviors you want to encourage. It’s also important to remember that every dog is unique. Whether you are trying to teach a new behavior or modify an existing one, you’ll have to figure out what works best for you and your dog. 

Below we have outlined some helpful information in the area of behavioral tips for dogs that may help you in your training efforts. Of course, our Longwood team is always here for you to help answer questions or point you toward resources that will support you in your training journey with your furry friend.


Tip 1: Target Training Dogs with Touch

Targeting is a method for teaching your dog to touch a part of their body, ie. paw, shoulder, hip, or nose, to a specific object. The most common manifestation of this tactic is asking the dog to touch his or her nose to a person’s hand, which we will refer to as “nose targeting.”

Why Employ Targeting?

Targeting is effective for a lot of reasons. It is a fun and simple behavior to teach and is a basic skill or building block that can be used to teach many other behaviors such as:

  • Moving your dog from one place to another, such as on or off the furniture, across the room, or into another room
  • Entering or exiting a carrier, crate, or vehicle
  • Directing your dog on and off the scale or exam table at the vet’s office
  • An alternative cue for your dog to come when called
  • Opening and closing doors, drawers or cabinets, or even the refrigerator

Target training can also help your dog in the areas of confidence, greeting new people, and even diverting your dog’s attention from something scary. 

Learn more about target training with touch, and try it at home with your pup today.


Tip 2: Nailboards Instead of Nail Clipping

Another behavior you can teach your dog that will potentially make your life a lot easier is using a nail board. Many dogs do not enjoy having their nails trimmed, and some dogs are so terrified by the act that they can make it quite a feat. Did you know that dogs can be taught to file their own nails using a nail board? This behavior draws from their natural urge to dig, and can eliminate the whole grueling process of nail clipping.

Learning to Use the Nail Board

Dogs can learn quickly how to use a nail board with very little training. You can teach this behavior by breaking down the completed act into smaller steps, rewarding your dog for completing each one on its own. 

There are many creative ways you can encourage your dog to file down nails to eliminate the need for trimming, including: 

  1. Place the board on the ground, sprinkle it with treats, then cover it with a towel. Dogs will often dig through the towel to find the treats, filing their own nails in the process.
  2. Place a squeaking toy on the ground underneath the filing board, then encourage your dog’s interest in the toy. Often your dog will dig at the board to get to the toy.
  3. Place the board in a high traffic area where your dog frequently walks. Walking over the board repeatedly will naturally file down the nails.
  4. If your dog scratches to go outside, place a small nail board on the door to encourage your dog to scratch the board instead.

Learn more about nail board use for dogs, and if you have any questions about dog training or behavior tips for your pets, chat with your Longwood veterinarian at your next appointment. We’d be happy to help!


Check back often for more information on Behavioral Tips for Dogs! 

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