Beating behaviour problems

Posted on: 17 December 2018 by 50connect editorial

You can't teach an old dog new tricks but you can certainly limit the impact of some of his/her bad behaviour. Here are some simple cues to follow.

beating behaviour problems

Jumping on owner

If your dog jumps up on you and will not leave you alone the instant you walk through the door, most owners would probably admit that this is a significant behaviour problem. In general, many dogs have learned to greet their owners in such a manner because they are excited and desire attention.

To solve this problem, when you arrive home from work it is a good idea not to pay any attention, good or bad, to your dog for 5-15 minutes, depending upon your dog’s level of arousal. This will give your dog time to calm down, and also reinforce the idea that he or she does not get your attention until they settle down and stop jumping. When your dog jumps up on you during other situations, an effective way of combating this problem is to simply turn and walk in the opposite direction. Please do not knee them in the chest, as this can cause injury to the dog and does not work with most dogs.

Jumping on strangers, guests and others

Most dog owners would agree that jumping on strangers, guest and others is one of the most prevalent dog behaviour problems. This behaviour occurs for the same reason as mentioned above – the dogs have learned through experience that this is the correct way to greet others, just as shaking hands is used between humans.

There are a couple of important components for combating this problem. The first relates to puppies that have not yet learned to jump up on people as a greeting. If you do want an adult jumper, never let puppies, no matter how small they are, jump on others, because small puppies often grow into large dogs very quickly. The second component for combating jumping involves teaching an adult dog a new way to greet people. This can be accomplished through repeated exercises where you approach a familiar person with the dog on a leash, and have the dog sit and stay just as you approach the person. This gives the dog a new, more appropriate, greeting behaviour to perform. When your dog is comfortable with familiar people, you can begin introducing strangers by following the same procedure.

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety

If, when you leave your dog at home for the day, he digs, chews, barks, and/or is destructive in any other manner, he could be suffering from separation anxiety. Another component of this problem is a very stressed disposition, where the dog becomes hyper-aroused when you leave and come home and while you are away.   This is often a problem because most of us lead busy lives and cannot be home to take care of our dogs at all times. Stress becomes an issue for these dogs and they learn to relieve this stress by being destructive.

There are ways of combating this problem:

  • Give the dog many items to chew on and play with while you are away
  • Change your leaving and arriving routine – do not make a big deal about either of these times
  • Give your dog a safe place to relax – provide a dog house or a dog bed in a quiet area. 
  • Buy your dog one of these great interactive toys, the Buster Cube and Kong Toy, to keep your dog's mind occupied while you are away.

Buster cube - Fill this large treat cube with your dog's favourite hard snack or kibble and she will play for hours. The design releases small amounts of food at a time to keep dogs coming back.

Kong toy - Kong uses solid high-grade rubber for legendary strength, quality and performance. Cleans teeth and exercises gums which fights plaque and dental decay.

Chewing

Chewing, much to our dismay, is a natural phenomenon for puppies. During the first six months of life, a puppy is constantly losing old teeth and growing in new ones. This inevitably causes pain for the dog, just as it would in a teething child. Dogs often relieve this pain by chewing on inanimate objects. The problem occurs when the puppy begins to chew on objects that are inappropriate, such as shoes or clothing.

The solution to puppy chewing is simple: provide the puppy with appropriate objects to chew on, and discourage them from chewing on inappropriate objects. This can be done by having an ample supply of dog chew items, such as pig ears and fuzzy toys, available at all times. When the dog attempts to chew on something he shouldn’t, you then distract them with a more interesting, but appropriate, item. You then praise the dog as he drops the inappropriate item and grabs the appropriate one.

Barking

A barking dog can be an extreme nuisance in a neighbourhood or apartment setting, as everyone around is subjected to the behaviour problem. Dogs bark for one of three reasons. The first and most common is territorial barking, where the dog is using its voice to protect its owner's property. This is also by far the most difficult to combat as the dog is relying on instinct, but a few things can be done that will improve the situation. The most important is to place your dog’s sleeping and living quarters as far away from the front of the house or yard as possible to provide security. Another cause of barking is the nature of the behaviour as a vocal greeting to other dogs and people. This problem can be solved in the same manner as with territorial barking. The third cause of nuisance barking is related to its use a stress reliever.

basic dog aggression

Basic aggression

The first thing that I would like to point out about aggression is that it is a very complex topic with many components. Having said this, I would recommend that you scan through the following information and then contact a behaviourist in your area for a more in-depth explanation.

In regards to basic canine aggression, there are two main types, the majority of dogs fitting into the first category, fear aggression. Dogs of this type tend to have very complex personalities, sometimes appearing frightened and other times appearing confident. The best way to diagnosis fear aggression is to watch the dog’s body language when approaching another dog or person. A fear aggressive dog will tend to have its ears back, be growling and barking excessively, and be slouching backwards and low to the ground.

In contrast with fear aggression, dominance aggression is another type of canine aggression that is quite different in appearance. A dominant aggressive dog will be lunging forward, with his ears and posture erect. This type of aggression is quite rare, but also quite dangerous, as these dogs tend to react quickly and irrationally.  

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