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Are You the Cause of Your Dog’s Bad Behavior?


Issues that reflect back on dog owners, and how to fix them 

If you live with a dog, it’s a foregone conclusion that you love your pet. However, there are certain behaviors that you barely tolerate. Some intolerable behavior may include peeing and pooping everywhere, dog or people aggression, stealing food, tearing up furniture, barking incessantly, begging for food annoyingly, jumping up at people, pulling like crazy when walked on a leash, running away, jumping fences, etc.

We won’t attempt to deal with all these issues in this article, but we’ll highlight those that are most common: Pulling a Leash, Bouncing Off the Walls, Excessive Barking, and Aggression.

“The fact is that dog’s do what works and their behavior reflects on how we handle and train them.”

According to Tyler Ohlmann, dog trainer from Louisville, KY, “In order to fix a problem at the lower end of the leash you have to look at who's holding the other end. Dogs are experimenters. “They just do and see what happens,” he said. “Babies do the same thing. If what they do results in something favorable they'll do it again. And if it results in something unfavorable, they're less likely to do it again.”

It's up to us then, as responsible dog owners to ensure that we reinforce positive behavior and correct unfavorable behavior.

Walking on a Leash. Who’s Pulling Whom?

FAQ: Most dogs will pull walking on a leash until they are taught otherwise.

There is a lot of discussion and some controversy about what type of leash, collar, or harness is best for walking a dog. That conversation is one that we won’t attempt to address in this article. The philosophy of those of us at New Mexican Kennels who have owned and trained dogs for a lifetime is to train a dog to walk calmly with a standard flat collar and leash. Gimmicks and fancy halter collars are shortcuts and no substitute for training.

Tips to Teach Loose Leash Walking.

We’re sending you straight to AKC GoodDog Helpline Trainer Erin Rakoskyfor two of her favorite exercises for encouraging your dog to walk politely by your side – not pulling ahead, dragging you along on the walk!

Check out the video demonstration and instructions here.

Spot is Bouncing Off the Walls

FAQ: Dogs feed off the energy around them. Genetics certainly play a factor in your dog’s energy level. There’s a huge difference between the energy of a low-energy Pug and a high-energy Australian Shepherd.

With the high prevalence of dogs being adopted from shelters and rescue organizations, it’s often difficult to pin-point breed genetics that strongly affect behavior, a DNA test may help explain why your dog has a high or low-energy level based on its genetic mix.

How Are You Affecting Your Dog’s Behavior?

Chances are you have a lot of things going on in your life. Whether you’re a single “dog parent” or a family with children, most of us are busy juggling a work-life balance. Let’s explore some indoor and outdoor activities that will help keep your pooch from bouncing off the walls from boredom and lack of activity.

The Benefits of Keeping Your Dog Busy

Bored dogs get into trouble. We’re their main source of entertainment, so if we don’t give them stuff to do they’ll come up with activities of their own — and that’s when we end up with chewed up shoes and curtains.

By playing with your dog a few times a day you can decrease the likelihood of them developing destructive habits such as excessive barking or chewing.

Indoor Play

Here’s a great article with lots of good ideas for Indoor Play. 33 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy Indoors

Outdoor Activities

Keep Your Dog Mentally and Physically Fit. This article from Dogtime has some good tips for you and your pooch.

Oy Vey My Barking Dog

If your dog barks all the time, you're probably a pushover, Ohlmann says. Now, not for all dogs. “German Shepherds, for example, bark because it's hot out or cold out or the sky is too blue.” “But if you go in a house and a Labrador Retriever is barking at its people all day, they taught it to bark by giving it stuff every time it did it.”

The dog was demanding, he explains, and its “people say 'what can I get you, do you want a treat?' Woof, woof, woof, 'here's a treat. here's a frisbee.' You can't teach something to demand if you don't give in.” #guilty

Everyone’s familiar with Cesar Milan, here’s what he’s got to say about barking dogs.

“Remember, barking is natural! It's an important means of communication for dogs. But sometimes problems can develop. As the pack leader, it's your job to step in and control excessive barking.”

Here are Cesar’s 5 tips to help you stop nuisance barking for good.

He’s Not Really Aggressive

When your dog behaves inappropriately by growling at a person or another dog, do you try to diffuse the growling by saying: “oh, it’s ok?” Here’s what your dog perceives: “oh good dog!” That’s known as the “coddle approach.” According to Ohlmann, “it's harder set boundaries than to shower them in love and hope bunnies and rainbows to get rid of a very serious problem, but you took the easy way out and that's a detriment to the dog.” Because guess what? Now he's learned that aggressive behavior is fine.”

Aggression is Not a Four-letter Word.

According to Sarah Hodgson, writing for The Dog Trainer, All dogs are capable of, and many will use, aggression—if they feel that a situation is life-threatening or that a prized possession might be stolen. Some dogs are assertive around moving targets (a holdover from their hunting days), and others may defend their personal space just because they don't like crowds. People are no different.

Signs that your dog may be developing aggressive tendencies include:

  • Overzealous, pushy greetings of friends or strangers
  • Exaggerated, fearful reactions to new people and stimuli
  • A pronounced and unyielding demand for affection
  • A prolonged stare used in an attempt to control unpredictable or wild family members or situations
  • Raised hackles
  • Growling
  • Bared teeth
  • An arched body
  • A stiff walk
  • A tail lifted over the back or under the legs
  • Rapid tail wagging, indicating panic if the tail is tucked low, or imminent attack if raised high
  • Slow sweep tail wagging, showing that a dog is analyzing the situation
  • Ears pricked forward ears or lowered back

Does exhibiting these signs make your dog mean? No. A dog who displays assertive or self-activated behavior is simply trying to manage his environment. If you don't teach your dog coping skills, he will act out. Like children, dogs benefit from compassionate, clear, and consistent instruction. Don’t let your dog become the sadly misunderstood playground bully—take steps to curb and redirect unwanted behaviors at once.

Resources:

Sarah Hodgson Dog Trainer YouTube Channel

Tyler Ohlmann

Cesar Milan

The Dog Trainer

Dogtime

American Kennel Club

Sandia Dog Obedience/Albuquerque

NBC News

Puppy Leaks