An owner who neglects or totally forgoes dog obedience training is asking for problems as this will lead to bad habits and poor behaviour from their dog.
An owner needs to communicate with the dog what is acceptable behaviour and what he expects from him. There is only one way to do things correctly and countless ways to do things wrong and we are being unrealistic if we expect our dog to automatically know what is appropriate.
A puppy, similar to a child, wants to explore and investigate as part of the learning and development process and its innocent conduct may not be acceptable and needs to be corrected.
If we as owners are inexperienced then we can inadvertently be reinforcing that conduct which will eventually translate into behavioural problems when he grows up.
It is common for us to view a puppy jumping up seeking attention as cute but the cuteness quickly evaporates when the puppy grows up into a sixty pound dog and continues to jump up on us or our guests.
The dog is not to blame for this type of behaviour when we have not only allowed it to happen but have unconsciously encouraged it.
We also need to be aware of the fact that some breeds were created for specific jobs and certain types of behaviour is inherent in their genes and predisposes them to certain forms of behaviour which we find problematic. An example of such behaviour is that of yorkshire terriers digging up the garden.
Unfortunately, although these behavioural problems can be avoided with knowledge and proper training they rarely are simply because we can’t be bothered, can’t spare the time or are inexperienced and lack the knowledge. However regardless of the improper behaviour it can be corrected with a little perseverance.
The first step is to understand why your dog behaves in the manner that it does. Dogs do not adopt bad behaviour overnight, instead most instances start small and gradually grow until it becomes problematic as the bad behaviour has been ignored or inadvertently reinforced through lack of appropriate corrective action on our part. When you get to this stage, spend some time on reflection and attempt to analyze when the bad behaviour began and by asking yourself some questions you will be able to develop an effective plan of action to correct it.
What triggers the bad behaviour? Try to establish if it only occurs in certain parts of the house, in the presence of certain individuals or when a particular object is visible. If you can establish exactly what triggers the behaviour then you can develop and work to instill an alternative behaviour which will eventually allow you to easier manage it. If your dog is placid and rarely barks but goes ballistic when a certain individual visits, then place him in another room until he accepts that this behaviour is unacceptable. When he has learned a new way to greet this particular individual then allow him to remain in the same room but keep a watchful eye on him. At the first indication of a return to his bad ways, immediately place him back in the separate room. This process can be slow but eventually it will dawn on him that his behaviour will not be accepted and results in his exclusion from the room where his owner is.
Take time to study your dog’s behaviour and verify whether its behaviour is continuous or just on occasion. Ascertain if there is a particular trigger or a number of them. Your findings will help you to refine and identify what is causing the behavioural problems.
A dog will repeat its behaviour when it is rewarded and avoid or stop certain behaviour if it is not rewarded or chastised. If the dog exhibits unacceptable behaviour which you ignore or which is encouraged by other members of your family, it will repeat that behaviour because either you failed to correct it or alternatively, whilst you ignored it other members of the family encouraged it. If you remove the reinforcement of that particular behaviour you will progress towards its elimination.
Review your actions when your dog has exhibited bad behaviour in the past. Were you successful in changing its response with the actions you took, even for a short period before he reverted to bad behaviour? Your previous actions and your dog’s responses will give you an insight into what motivates him. This recap may help you to develop ways to correct the problem based on your previous actions.
Once you have established the cause of the bad behaviour and why he insists on doing it, you can work to correct and manage its behaviour and enforce an alternate mode of behaviour that is acceptable. Patience and perseverance are the keys to transforming your dog into a well behaved companion.
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