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How to help your dog behave well

The way a dog behaves depends on their age, breed (or type), personality and past experiences. Having a well-behaved dog starts with choosing a type and size of dog that suits you, your home and your lifestyle. However, dog behaviour is hugely tied to how you look after them.

two cross-breed dogs playing © RSPCA

Train your dog

Use rewards to train your dog to behave from an early age. This training should include:

Good training makes your dog easier to control, as well as enhances their quality of life and your relationship with them. Reward training can also be a lot of fun for you and your dog!

Why not check out our video on how to teach your dog to wave and give it a go at home?

Top tip: Always encourage good behaviour with rewards - never shout at or punish your dog. Dogs are more likely to behave badly if they're scared or suffering. Be consistent in the way you, your family and your friends react to your dog.

Provide a safe space

Your dog also needs to be able to avoid things that scare them. They need constant access to a safe hiding place where they can escape when they feel afraid.

Encourage regular exercise and play

Dogs need regular exercise and plenty of opportunities to walk and run. Aim to take them out at least once a day to keep them fit, active and stimulated (unless your vet recommends otherwise).

Dogs are playful, sociable animals and can become distressed or bored without enough to do. Give them safe toys as well as regular opportunities to play with people or other friendly dogs.

Top tip: If you struggle to make time to exercise your dog, why not hire a dog walker?

For more information on how to find a good dog walker download our professional dog walker's guidelines.

Look out for problems

Finally, pay close attention to your dog. If their behaviour changes or they show regular signs of stress or fear (such as excessive panting, licking lips, hiding, cowering or aggression), they could be distressed, bored, ill or injured. If you notice a change, ask your vet for advice. They may then refer you to an animal behaviourist.

Find out more

To help you learn more about how your dog behaves, take a look at our quick guide to 'Understanding Dog Behaviour'. For more information, you could also read our advice on nervous dogs.

Find out more