Successfully Changing or Managing Dog Behavior Issues
How many times have you seen a happy dog bounding joyously towards a stranger to say hello... while the stranger looks somewhat scared of this big, unknown dog that's heading straight for him? Dog behavior problems are common. Although we as pet owners adore our dogs, there are people who don't care for them or who are afraid of them. Even those of us who adore dogs can sometimes be put off by a poorly behaved dog, no matter how friendly he is. Learning how to manage dog behavior is simply "good manners", and it will help your dog to know what's expected of him (and save yourself and others the stress of dealing with an over-exuberant dog).
Excessive barking is one major complaint about dogs. Dogs bark for a lot of reasons but regardless of the cause, anyone who's ever had a a neighbour with a dog that hangs around barking all day can attest to how exhausting and frustrating it can be! There are dog barking laws / bylaws to help us deal with excessive barking but the better solution is to figure out why the dog is barking so much and then rectify the situation. It could be simple boredom or lack of exercise, or there could be people / animals / noises / etc. that are causing too much stimulation.
Poor Dog-to-Dog Manners
Similarly frustrating - and even frightening - are pets that don't display proper dog park behavior. In any area where dogs are allowed to mingle with one another, good dog park etiquette is necessary in order to maintain the peace. It's not just the 'embarassment factor' - it's a safety issue for the dog itself, the other pets at the park, and the people too. Behavior that's sometimes seen at dog parks includes dominent behavior, dogs jumping up on people, and fearful dogs.
Behavior Problems At Home
Dogs can show behavior problems at home too. Chewing problems are common, particularly in puppies. Timid dogs sometimes display bladder problems - but there are many reasons why bladder problems can occur in dogs, including medical reasons. Special-needs dogs can sometimes have their own set of issues, including deaf dog problems or potentially aggressive behavior in senior dogs.
Managing Behavior Issues in Dogs
Behavior issues can be changed or managed succesfully. Dogs learn to repeat behavior when they are rewarded, so with time & patience it's possible to teach them new behaviors in place of the old, "unacceptable" behaviors. Keep in mind:
- There may be medical reasons for your dog's behavior. A visit to the vet can help to rule out any possible medical issues first. If a medical issue is the underlying cause of a problem, then the vet can determine what treatment is best.
- Take action promptly to help your dog overcome behavior issues. The longer a dog is allowed to continue with an unwanted behavior, the more work and time it may be to teach him a more acceptable behavior.
- Give your dog time to understand what you want from him. Be patient and realize that dogs love us and like to try to please us, but they need time and consistency to understand what we want.
- It is not "cute" to allow small dogs to get away with behaviour that's not acceptable in larger dogs. For everyone's safety (and sanity!), all dogs - regardless of their size - need to be taught appropriate behavior.
- Get help if you need it. A dog behaviorist can help to show you positive ways to redirect your dog's attention and teach him new behaviors. A dog behavior evaluation could be useful too to determine the dog's 'triggers', or what's causing the behavior.
- Understand that sometimes it's just not possible to completely eliminate an 'unacceptable' behavior - sometimes the behavior may need to be managed instead.
- Remember that it's no fun for your dog either, to have you stressed out and yelling at him. Work together! Some dogs are naturally more sensitive than others, some have higher energy needs, all dogs are different. Find ways of communicating with your dog (with help from a dog trainer or behaviorist if needed) and works in a positive way with his distinct personality.