Can you be causing your dog to misbehave?

Many dog behavior problems have a root cause of anxiety, stress, frustration, and fear.  Connected with this, it is sometimes our own behaviors that trigger the actions of our companions. Instead of thinking about our actions, many pet owners just blame the dog for their behavior.

At Family Pooch we are dedicated to helping people who love their dogs!  Som in the hopes of understanding, here are some possible mistakes and how to fix them.

Not listening to polite requests: Many dog owners just don’t understand what their companion is saying. Your dog, for example, may use simple body language to request that you back off. Ignoring the polite signals, your dog is likely to give a more direct warning, like a growl, to get his message across.  Ignoring the direct warning may get you bit!   My suggestion is to familiarize yourself with your dog's early signs of stress or fear and listen to the polite signal.  It will help both you and your dog.

Forcing scary care situations: Simple activities, like nail trimming and grooming, can be a time for fear for your dog. An upset dog will probably struggle, fight, or even to get away. This can lead to injuries for your dog, and anyone caring for him, including you, the vet, staff, and groomers.  A better approach is to teach the pet that calm cooperation earns ample rewards. Such efforts are important both in the home and other places of care, including the veterinarian and the groomer. Our dog Odie HATED getting his nails trimmed, and we struggled with this for a while.  There are a number of strategies you can use, such as rewarding your dog for staying calm.  This can turn a scary event, into something a bit better.  Consider visiting Fear Free Certified Professionals which look for ways for your beloved companion to get the care needed, without the fear.

Your dog has his own fears. Many dogs have their own fears in their current environment.  It could be Fireworks, bright lights, knocking, small children, small dogs.  Exposing your companion to these fearful situations without a plan to help relieve stress is bad news which can make a bad situation worse.  Treating the behaviors of the fear with punishment will escalate anxiety, and can even hurt the bond you have with your dog. Rewards, on the other hand, can help your dog pet learn to manage his stress.

Are you boring your dog?  As discussed in Why Dog Puzzles like the Snuffle Bowl and Snuffle Mat are good for your dog.  Dogs need to have their brain engaged.  Some dogs that have nothing to do all-day will create "games" which end up destroying furniture, etc.  When I was very young, we had a Poodle called "Happy."  When no one was willing to play, Happy would take a ball, go to the basement steps, throw it, and then chase the ball down.  If Happy couldn't get the ball, barking would ensue until someone paid attention.  The point is our loving pets are thinking creatures, and if we can't get their minds engaged, they will find a way.  Consider a Snuffle Mat, Snuffle Bowl, or other Puzzle toys.

Before doing anything, talk to your Vet.  It is possible that behavior, especially if it is new, may be connected to a medical issue. Your Vet will also be able to find other ways to help!

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