Getting your dog to behave would be so much easier if you tried any of these things

Professionals share their tips and tricks.

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While some dog breeds are easy to train, others require a little more effort. For example, if your dog likes to chew up your furniture, or if they get nervous whenever you leave the house, you might have to get creative in order to curb those unwanted behaviors.

But if you don’t have the time? Not a problem, as I’ve reached out to a handful of experts who shared their favorite tips on discouraging bad behavior in dogs. From keeping them busy with puzzle toys to giving them stuffed animals to snuggle with, there’s a piece of advice in here for even the naughtiest pups.


Smear a licking mat with peanut butter during stressful moments

Regardless of how agreeable your pup is, there are some moments that are sure to stress them out. Luckily, Ellis has an easy fix. “Smear your licky mat with something yummy, like peanut butter or pumpkin, stick it up on the side of your bathtub or place it down on a table to keep your pet busy during bath time, grooming, brushing or any other time you need them to stay still,” she tells Mic. “This creates a positive experience instead of a stressful one.”

This licky mat in particular features 77 suction cups on the back, helping it stay firmly secured to your walls — even if your pup gets a little aggressive with it. It’s also dishwasher-safe and comes with a rubber spatula to help you smear peanut butter on it without getting your hands dirty.


Have your dog ring these bells when they need to go potty

If that doorbell is a little too complicated for your dog, this strand of bells might be more their speed. There’s no need for any pushing — all your dog has to do is nudge them in order to get them to ring, alerting you that they need to go potty. Simply hang it from your doorknob and it’s ready to go.


Entertain & stimulate your dog with a treat-dispensing toy

Some days are just too busy to find time to play with your dog — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways you can keep them busy. “A great way to keep dogs busy and mentally stimulated is to provide enrichment,” explains Dr. Linda Simon. “This includes things like snaffle mats, lick mats, treat-dispensing balls and chews.”

If your dog wasn’t a fan of that previous snuffle mat, this treat-dispensing toy might be more their speed. It drops treats as it rolls around the floor, enticing your dog to push it around and keeping them mentally stimulated in the process. Or, if your dog has a habit of gobbling down their food, it also works great as a slow feeder.


Reward your pup to reinforce good behaviors

One of the many tricks to reinforcing good behaviors in your dog is to give them treats when they’re doing something you want to encourage — like sitting quietly or waiting patiently for food instead of jumping. “To teach your dog that good behavior pays off all the time, not just when in ‘training mode’, try to catch your dog being good and reward them when they aren't expecting it,” explains Thiemann. “Keeping a small jar of kibble or semi-moist treats on your desk is a great visual reminder to practice this training while working from home.”

Not only are these treats available for just $10, but they also come in four delicious flavors: pumpkin, gingerbread, bacon, or a variety pack of all three. And since they’re made using human-grade ingredients, you can rest assured that your pup is getting a high-quality treat that they’ll look forward to eating.


Swap out their food bowl with a slow-feeder one

Food-motivated dogs can gobble up their meals quickly — and while that might not be an issue in humans, it doesn’t always end well for dogs. “Allowing your dog to eat too quickly can cause medical issues and vomiting,” Lambo tells Mic. The solution? Lambo goes on to recommend “[...] feeding out of slow feeders or treat dispensing balls” to help remedy their upset stomachs.

Not only is this slow feeder bowl available in small, medium, and large sizes, but it can also help slow down their eating by up to 10 times. The nonslip base helps keep it from shifting out of place while they eat — and many reviewers appreciated how the dishwasher-safe design makes it “easy to clean.”


Understand your dog better with these talking buttons

You may have seen dogs using talking buttons on TikTok — but if not, Sharma says they can help you communicate with your pup. “Another way to help your dog behave better is to introduce them to talking buttons,” she tells Mic. “These interactive toys are great for voice command training and it can help you understand your dog better.”

Not only do these buttons deliver high-quality sound, but each one only needs two AAA batteries (which are not included) for hours’ worth of use. And with four buttons in every order, you can easily record “Outside,” “Treat,” or even “Walk” — and still have an extra button for something fun.


Give them a Kong toy filled with delicious treats

Whether your dog is feeling anxious or bored, it can lead to destructive behaviors that you want to avoid. The solution? “Frozen Kongs stuffed with goodies, like fruit and pumpkin, can give dogs an outlet to chew and lick (stress-releasing activities),” explains Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer. “These can help your dog calm down and save your furniture from being chewed on, all while they are having fun!”

This particular Kong toy comes in six sizes, making it suitable for nearly any dog breed. The rubber is tough enough to handle aggressive chewers — and if your dog shakes the treats out too quickly, you can even freeze peanut butter inside for an added challenge.


Use a smart camera to give your dog treats while you’re away

Sometimes, separation anxiety can put your dog under extreme duress while you’re away. With that in mind, Ellis recommends using a smart camera — like this one — to help ease their nervous minds. “Watch your dog, talk to your dog, get barking notifications and even toss treats,” she tells Mic. And if your dog doesn’t have any issues with you leaving? She goes on to say that it’s still “a great way to check up on your dog and reward for quiet moments, when training a dog...”


Train them to use a pet-friendly doorbell when they want to go outside

Having trouble figuring out when your dog needs to go outside? Thomas Doyne, DVM, MS and owner of Cute Pet Care, suggests training them to use a doorbell so that they can “[...] signal their need to go outside to use the bathroom.” Doyne continues, “The doorbell consists of a button or a series of bells that are hung on or near the door that leads to the outside.”

With its effortless installation process (use the included adhesive to stick it next to your door) and ultra-sensitive button, this pet-friendly doorbell is perfect for nearly any dog breed. It’s also water-resistant — so you can just as easily use it outside as you can inside — and it even comes pre-loaded with 38 different chimes.


Cover up smooth floors with a grippy rug

While puppies tend to be curious, older dogs can be a little more cautious — especially when it comes to smooth floors. “Dogs, especially seniors, can get nervous about walking across floors with poor traction,” explains Colleen Lambo, a veterinarian with The Vets. “The fear of not being able to cross the floor safely is as important to manage as symptoms of physical pain. Consider yoga mats, rug runners, or these paw stickers to help!”

With that said, this runner rug is a solid pick for anyone looking to give their dog some peace of mind. It comes in dozens of sizes, making it suitable for floors big or small — and the nonslip backing helps keep your dog stable so that they can walk with confidence. Choose from more than 20 colors.


Help keep their mouths clean with some teeth-cleaning treats

Even though you don’t necessarily need to brush your dog’s teeth on a daily basis, that doesn’t mean that you can outright ignore their dental health either. “Ignoring your dog's dental health can lead to severe oral pain, difficulty eating, and create systemic medical issues,” explains Lambo. “If you aren't able to brush your puppy's teeth daily (we recommend keeping their toothbrush near your toothbrush to help you remember), consider dental treats and toys to help keep them clean in between full dental visits.”

Luckily, these DENTASTIX work to help freshen your dog’s breath, as well as reduce tartar and plaque buildup simply by snacking on them. You only need to give your pup one per day for the best results — and the delicious chicken flavor is sure to please even the pickiest pups.


Opt for a no-pull harness over harsh collars

While attaching leashes to your dog’s collar may seem like common sense, in reality, it can end up causing more harm than you realize — particularly if your dog likes to pull. “Pulling on the leash when walking can be difficult for owners and pets,” explains Lambo. In fact, she goes on to say that “for some pets this can lead to tracheal collapse.”

Instead, consider using this no-pull harness when it’s time to walk your dog. It doesn’t put any pressure on their neck, making it great for flat-faced breeds that can have trouble breathing — and the reflective threads even help keep them visible at night. Choose from four colors as well as four sizes.


Lay down some puppy pads to help curb inappropriate urination

Is your dog is still peeing inside? Don’t worry — Lambo suggests using “[...] puppy pads, indoor toilets, training treats” to help curb “inappropriate urination.” And since these particular puppy pads are washable, you won’t be stuck having to waste money on new ones if your pup’s accidents are on the frequent side. They also feature a leakproof base to help ensure that your floors stay clean, as well as a nonslip backing so that they stay firmly in place when your dog is in a rush to “go.”


Stop your dog from jumping by attaching a leash

Hannah Thiemann, CTC, CSAT, and CPDT-KA, has some helpful advice when it comes to dogs who greet guests by jumping: “Dogs can't jump on guests if you put them on [a] leash or behind a baby gate before opening the door.”

With that in mind, this tactical dog leash is only 3 feet long, making it perfect for securing your dog to a confined area, as well as preventing them from jumping. The bungee portion gives them some flexibility in movement — but since it only extends an extra foot, they won’t get enough freedom to be naughty. Choose from three colors: navy blue, black, or coyote brown.


Use a puzzle toy to feed your dog instead of a regular bowl

Whether your pup eats too fast or they need some mental stimulation to keep them busy, an interactive puzzle toy may be what you’re looking for. “Trading out your dog's food bowl for a more interactive feeder can turn meal time into a mental workout, encouraging calmer, less disruptive behavior,” explains Thiemann.

With that in mind, this puzzle toy comes in four varying levels of difficulty, making it great for dogs of nearly any intelligence level. Simply fill the compartments with treats, and your pup will have to figure out how to slide and flip the lids in order to get them.


Trick lazy dogs into exercising with help from a flirt pole

Exercise isn’t just important for humans — it can also help ensure that your dog stays healthy for years to come. But if you don’t have a spacious backyard, or it’s too cold for long walks where you live? Meg Marrs, a dog trainer and the founder of K9 of Mine, suggests using a flirt pole to get them moving. “A flirt pole is a great tool to burn off your dog's excess energy while giving him a chance to exercise his prey-chasing urges!” she tells Mic.

This particular flirt pole features a plush toy that squeaks and rattles at the end of the line, which might just be the stimulation that your lazy dog needs to get them up and moving. And while no toy is truly indestructible, the line is made from sturdy nylon that’s tear-resistant.


Bond with your dog by carrying them in a cozy sling

Your dog looks forward to you coming home every day, so why not spend some time bonding with them? “First and foremost, it is essential to build a strong bond with your dog,” Aaron Rice, an expert dog trainer at Stayyy, tells Mic. “Spend quality time together, take them for walks, and give them plenty of attention. When you establish a trusting relationship, it will be easier for your dog to obey your commands.”

But if you aren’t sure how to bond outside of dishing out treats and walks? Try carrying them around in this sling. It’s made from a soft polyester-cotton blend, making it just as cozy as it is breathable — and the strong fabric can hold pets up to 12 pounds in weight.


Get your dog moving by playing a game of fetch

Exercise is rarely ever a bad thing — especially when it comes to your dog. “[...] Dogs need to be physically and mentally stimulated, so make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for your pup to get exercise,” Rice tells Mic. “Not only will it help them to behave better, but it will also help them stay healthy.”

But if your dog is tired of playing with their usual toys? Try throwing one of these Chuckit! balls around. They’re ultra-bouncy, which can help entice your dog into chasing them — even if they’re feeling lazy. Owners of aggressive chewers can also appreciate them, as each one has a thick rubber core that makes them exceptionally durable.


Shake things up with a variety pack of toys

Naughty pup getting up to no good? According to Dr. Dwight Alleyne, DVM, “The best way to get your dog to behave better is to provide positive reinforcement for a desired behavior. This positive reinforcement could be their favorite treat, a favorite toy, or even play time.” And while purchasing new toys all the time can quickly add up, this variety pack comes with 10 toys for less than $40. They’re the ideal size for small dogs, but don’t be fooled — each one is still tough enough to handle aggressive chewing.


Help soothe nervous dogs with a fun puzzle toy

Iram Sharma, DVM and writer for PupVine, has an easy fix for nervous dogs. “Some of the ways to help your dog behave better is introducing them to puzzle toys,” he tells Mic. “Not only will they keep them mentally stimulated, but these toys will also avoid them from becoming anxious and frustrated.”

This particular puzzle toy is a little more challenging than the last, but not so hard that your pup will give up on it. While they’ll still have to figure out how to open the compartments in order to get treats, each tier also rotates, which should be just enough of a challenge to keep them distracted from whatever is making them anxious.


Give them puzzle toys to keep them busy

Needy pup distracting you from work? Not only can a puzzle toy help keep them occupied, but Dr. Marissa SanFillipo, BVM, MS, and a staff veterinarian at Small Door Veterinary – Williamsburg, also says that it can help “[...] keep their mind active can help keep dogs focused for training and provide mental enrichment.” And since this puzzle toy comes in four difficulty levels, you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping your dog occupied — even if they’re on the smarter side. It’s also made without any BPA, PVA, or phthalates, and contains zero removable parts to help keep your dog safe.


Calm anxious pups using a pheromone diffuser

When no amount of puzzle toys or treats seem to calm your nervous dog, SanFillipo recommends trying out a diffuser. She tells Mic, “Using a calming product like Adaptil diffusers and collars can help reduce mild anxiety that may be inhibiting certain dogs' ability to respond well to training” — and this one is currently available for just $25. It’s powerful enough to cover up to 700 square feet, yet small enough to fit on a shelf or desk without taking up too much space. Each order also includes one pheromone vial to get you started.


Keep your dog busy with help from a snuffle mat

Bored dogs are more likely to get up to no good. Luckily, Corina Witkowski, a dog trainer, has some easy advice. “Keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated: ‘Bad’ behavior often comes from boredom and frustration,” she tells Mic. “Keeping your dog mentally and physically stimulated will help minimize or eliminate those unwanted behaviors like chewing things up, jumping, and barking [...]”

Not only is this snuffle mat a fun way to keep your dog busy, but it’s also easy enough to use that even the dumbest pups can appreciate it. Simply hide treats amongst the fabric petals, and your dog will have to “snuffle” their way through the layers in order to find them.


Protect introverted dogs with a leash that tells others to stay away

Not all dogs are friendly. “If your dog is reactive to other dogs and dislikes socializing when out and about, they may simply be an introvert by nature,” explains Simon. “They are entitled to enjoy their walk without being approached by another boisterous dog, which may cause them to bark or snap due to anxiety.” Luckily, there’s an easy solution, as Simon goes on to say that “a great tool to have is a bright yellow collar and leash which say ‘NERVOUS DOG’. This ensures other owners know to give your dog space.”

Made from tough nylon with the word “NERVOUS” printed along the strap, this leash is an easy way to help prevent others from approaching your nervous pup. Both the trigger and “D” ring are rust-resistant — and you even have the choice of two lengths: 2 feet or 4 feet.


Give your dog a fun toy when they’re left alone

Leaving your dog alone can stress them out — but that doesn’t mean you have to stay home 24/7. Instead, Diana Ludwiczak, a certified dog trainer and a master K9 scent detection trainer, suggests giving them a fun toy to keep them occupied while you’re away. “When you are leaving your dog alone, first you’ll need to ensure that they got enough exercise and next provide them with a toy that can keep them busy,” she tells Mic. “We like toys that keep their mind active while having a calming effect.”

Not only is this toy tough enough to handle aggressive chewers, but there’s also space in the center that you can fill up with treats. That way, your dog will be busy trying to shake the treats loose instead of worrying about when you’ll come back — and it even comes in two sizes: small or large.


Create your own puzzle toys to challenge your dog

A busy dog is a happy dog, but if you don’t have room in the budget for puzzle toys? Tehreem Puri, a pet trainer and veterinarian at Quick Cat Pro, suggests making your own out of materials you can find around the house. “[...] Get some DIY dog enrichment toys you can put around the house, like a food tube puzzle made from toilet paper rolls cut in irregular sizes arranged in a box.”

Or, if you don’t have time for another project, you can grab this plush puzzle toy for just $11. Instead of filling it with treats, it comes with three stuffed squeaky squirrels that your dog will have to figure out how to pull from the stuffed tree trunk. It’s also gentle on sensitive gums, and comes in four sizes: small, medium, large, or extra-large.


Come up with a daily routine & stick to it

People aren’t the only ones who appreciate a steady routine. Febra Alexander, the owner of Doggy Bag Treat, recommends “establishing a daily routine and sticking to it – Dogs thrive on predictability, so having a consistent routine is important for helping them stay calm and relaxed.”

But if you have trouble keeping your own routine organized? This dry-erase calendar might be able to help. The daily squares are large enough to write multiple appointments — and each order even includes a set of markers, as well as a bonus dry-erase shopping list.


Place an absorbent mat by the door where your dog can dry off

If your dog likes to run rampant throughout your home after coming indoors, don’t worry — Dr. Darcia Kostiuk, Senior Veterinarian for ORIJEN® and ACANA® pet food, has an easy trick to help curb the behavior. She tells Mic, “I recommend placing an absorbent mat near the entrance where the dog can immediately sit when they come in the house. This allows you to towel the dog off and clean their paws when they are covered in snow, rain, or mud.”

With that in mind, this mat is made from dense polyester fibers that work to trap dirt, holding onto it until you’re ready to shake it off outside. It’s also stain- as well as fade-resistant and has a low pile that won’t easily get caught on swinging doors.


Keep some treats on you so that you’re ready to reward good behavior

Since rewarding your dog with treats is one of the easiest ways to reinforce good behavior, it makes sense that you’d want to keep a few on you — especially when out on walks. Kristi Benson, a dog trainer with a Certificate in Training and Counseling from the Academy for Dog Trainers, tells Mic that “I keep my treat bag in the fridge, with a baggie full of delicious soft treats tucked inside, ready for my walks.”

But if you don’t own a treat bag yet? This one has a magnetic opening that makes it easy to quickly retrieve treats whenever you need them, yet helps prevent spills should you ever drop it. Two small pockets on the side give you room for extras, like poop bags — and the zippered back compartment is large enough to stash your phone.


Prevent unwanted chewing with a bitter spray

Whether your dog likes chewing up shoes or furniture, a no-chew spray — like this one — might be able to help. “I find that another common training tool is bitter apple spray as it does deter young pups from chewing things, especially wood objects which are dangerous,” Kristin Kutscher, DVM at URvet Care, tells Mic. And since this particular spray is completely harmless as well as stain-free, there’s no need to worry about any side effects from using it. Simply spritz the places or objects your dog likes to chew, or even spray directly on your dog to help discourage them from chewing their own hair or picking at hot spots.


Give lonely pups a companion to snuggle with

If your anxious pup has rejected every other piece of advice on this list, Kutscher suggests giving them a companion to snuggle with. She tells Mic, “I also recommend soft plush animals with a mimicking heartbeat for new pups (they tend to stick around for years to come)” — and this one is currently available for less than $40. Two heartbeat modes give you options when trying to soothe your dog’s anxiety, and each order even includes a heat pack for an even more realistic feel.