There's no such thing as a perfect dog that means most dogs will develop some type of behaviour issues at one stage or another in their lives. How we are involved with it'll make the most significant difference between owning a dog that is wonderful to have around, or a complete discomfort!
If we react to their unacceptable behavior in the wrong way, we risk making the issue worse and setting ourselves off on a downward spiral that could end in an one-way trip to the dog rescue.
Identifying Dog Behaviour Problems
Dog behaviour problems cover a broad range including aggression, biting, snarling and non-stop barking, eating issues, pulling on the lead, jumping up, taking food, attention seeking, destructive behaviour, chewing, whining, scratching, digging, urinating or pooping in the house, and self mutilation.
However , some dog behaviour problems aren’t actually behaviour problems at all, but natural dog behaviour which we don’t happen to like. As an example, a dog digging to hide his bone would be considered natural behaviour in natural habitats, but if it’s in the middle of your lawn you’re likely to classify that as a behaviour problem.
Convincing a dog out of natural behaviour isn’t always easy so you might need to settle for a more creative solution. In the digging example above, a compromise might be to find an area in your garden where you don’t mind them digging and use positive re-enforcement to encourage them to use it instead.
How do Dog Behaviour Problems Develop?
Dog behaviour problems might be a sign that something else is wrong and their behaviour is the dog’s way of trying to cope with the situation. A useful example of this is separation anxiety in dogs, which can lie behind an entire range of behaviour issues from urinating in the house, to gnawing the furniture. All these issues are developed as a technique of dealing with dog anxiety.
Sometimes dog behaviour problems are learnt responses to situations. A dog that reacts aggressively to someone raising their hand might have learned to do that to protect themselves (especially where a dog has been maltreated), yet will carry on reacting like this even when the situation has changed and the dog has been re-homed.
Major change in a dog’s life can also be the trigger for behavior problems, as they attempt to adjust to new environment, new territory, new folk in the house, or maybe another dog. Triggers can include changes to a dog’s health also , as a dog can feel more vulnerable or be suffering in pain.
How to Deal With Dog Behaviour Problems
If you can work out what lies behind your dogs bad behavior, you are halfway there, as rather than coping with the behavior problem itself you can cope with the roots of the issue and the behaviour should change very naturally.
Never use punishment based training, as this may backfire and has been shown to make the issue worse. It can also encourage some dogs to do it again, because while you’re hollering at them you are also giving them attention, and for some dogs even the negative sort of attention you are giving them trumps none.
A good training course that will help you understand your dog and shows you the correct way to use positive training systems to alter their reaction to the things that trigger their behavior issues, is most likely to be the simplest way forward for you and your dog.
If you don’t wish to tackle the issue alone, a vet or local dog trainer could help you decide on the right plan of action for your dog.
Whichever way you approach the difficulty, you’ll need patience, endurance and a consistent response every time they use the behaviour you want to change. That way you give yourself the highest probability of success.
Author Venice Marriott is a writer and dog owner and runs a website to provide help and information for dog owners dealing with dog anxiety. Get more information about the many dog behaviour problems created by anxiety, when you visit the site.