Practically every problem awaits for a solution...
Educating or reconditioning, consists on knowing the learning theory, understanding the canine behaviour and having and be consistent!
The keyword to success, is patience. Punishing, reprimanding, evoking fear and stress to the individual, is much easier and quicker as a human reaction, than teaching him gently, patiently and positively, what you want him to do. Each dog has his own learning pace, which you should respect and encourage by offering him the necessary time.
Do not rush with his education, a stress-free and force-free training program - yes, it will take longer, but it will provide the best results in the long term.
Whom to choose for your dog
When there is a “temperament” issue that results to a change of his normal behaviour, we’d better take action.
You should always start with your Vet, in order to exclude the possibility of a health problem.
When your dog’s suffers from a muscular pain, an infection, fever, inflammation, allergy etc. he will eventually change his attitude, because pain or discomfort will stress him.
If that is the case, once you deal with the cause – your dog will get back to his normal state.
If a health condition is not the underlying reason of his temperament change, then you should ask your self this question:
what triggers him and when does he do what he does?
According to the answer, you should be able to decide if your dog’s problem is due to lack of education, or to a behavioural one.
For instance, if your dog is over-excited and happy to go for his walk, he pulls on the leash.
The dog trainer will show you how to deal with the symptoms of the problem, with anti-pulling ways to implement to your daily education.
On the other hand, for the same problem, the behaviourist will discover the underlying reason that triggers the “pulling” behaviour.
Your dog may react to specific stimuli, because he is uncomfortable in the presence of other dogs, bikes, children etc., hence he pulls to get as far as possible.
Under these circumstances, none of the anti-pulling measures will help.
You have to desensitise him to his triggers, by working methodically to build-up his confidence and when he no longer feels threatened – he will stop pulling.
It is the same procedure for most of the common dog problems, like barking, jumping, mouthing, biting, whining, digging etc.
First you discover the triggers of the problematic reaction and then you proceed accordingly.
Either by educating him or by rebuilding his confidence, creating new neural pathways and present him with an alternative way of coping.
Dogs have their own language and a part of it is to produce sounds.
Our objective is not to eliminate this language but to understand it and to recognize the reasons that motivate it, therefore to bring it back to a level and intensity that can be accepted, while allowing the dog to act naturally.
The barking classification consists of the following:
1. Excitement barking, 2. Alert barking , 3. Fear barking, 4. Guard barking, 5. Frustration barking and 6. Learned barking.
The frequent barking has no particular cause, it most often expresses an emotional state, fear, anger, frustration, distress of loneliness, marking the territory, alert etc.
The persistent barking derives from different factors: behavioral disorders, mimetism, health problem etc. For almost any type of barking there is a solution, variable methods to use in order to adjust, re-educate your dog, by teaching him a new behavior.
Dogs whine to communicate their physical, mental or emotional state, but each type of moan has a different meaning in its language.
A dog can whine because he is excited, anxious, frustrated, or distressed. Here are some cases that trigger it:
A physical need, in order to relieve oneself, the instinct asks him to go out and the dog is frustrated of not being able to do so (for the dogs that live inside the house).
A physical or health problem, hence whining indicates a potential pain, a discomfort, in this case the dog can be in the "lying down" position, with the posture of submission. Such behavior requires you to consult your veterinarian.
A mental state, fear, anxiety, frustration, excitement & joy, there are all reasons to trigger it.
Whining can become an unwanted behavior and you have to learn to read and understand the dog's emotions, consequently you can correct it when needed.
The recall is the cue that helps calling your dog in any circumstance, it is probably the most important of all cues, especially at the beginning of the puppy's life.
On the other hand it is necessary not to abuse by repeating it several times. In case your dog refuses to come after 2-3 repetitions, you have to go get him back calmly, without talking to him, or inflicting stress nor fear, just drive him where you want him to be and after keeping him restraint for a few minutes, you release him again. Avoid common mistakes like calling him to put on the leash, to stop play, finish the walk, reprimand and punish him for the unwanted behavior, because all that inevitably leads to the wrong association with the recall. His name and the cue to come to you, must be positively reinforced with great enthusiasm from your part, treats, cuddles, games or verbal praise, to get the best result.
Let's face it, all dogs are happy to be outside, so they let themselves be submerged by all the new smells, landscapes, other animals etc. resulting to overlook their owners as well as anything that been asked to do.
It is recommended to discontinue your walk as soon as the dog begins to pull the leash, change the direction frequently, so he will not be able to predict where you are going.
The Easy-Walk harness is a great alternative for "big pullers". Do not use a collar, which can evoke oesophageal and tracheal lesions, paralysis of the laryngeal nerve, lesions of eye blood vessels, hypothyroidism etc.
In case your dog is easily distracted, gain his attention and reward him for focusing on you.
When your daily walks take place in the same environment, the dog becomes familiar and pulls towards the final destination, thus changing the walk routine may also help.
The beginning of a walk is always more difficult, while the dog is very excited to be outside, but after a long walk or a game, he will happily follow your pace.
Chewing is a natural and beneficial behavior that plays a vital role in the dog's physical development, especially in puppies.
The mechanical action of chewing helps maintain a good oral hygiene by limiting the tartar formation on the gums.
Dogs chew for various reasons, when they start to form their adult teeth is the most obvious reason, but not many people are aware of another teething period between 6 and 12 months, when the teeth settle in the jawbone.
This would be a period of great discomfort for the dog, therefore he has a physiological need for chewing.
Other reasons would be fiber deficiency in his food as well as boredom, due to lack of physical and mental exercise.
When it becomes a problem, with victims like shoes, books, furniture, papers etc, it is necessary to start by changing his food and then to redirect his attention towards the chewing-objects of your choice.
When jumping-up, your dog simply seeks your attention and/or expresses his internal state, joy, playfulness, excitement, enthusiasm etc. it is absolutely not a "dominant" behaviour.
Nor a breed-related problem either, but mainly based on his lack of education. The root of this normal and natural behaviour, lies in the early age of the puppy, as he tries to regurgitate food from his mother's mouth and with the time as the dog ages, becomes a demonstration of enthusiasm.
There are different solutions to eliminate this behaviour, one is simply not to encourage it, by ignoring the dog, turn your back at him while he performs it and avoid the contact.
On the other hand, "ignoring" may fail with the persistent-excited ones, therefore the dog should be reconditioned to offer an alternative behaviour - instead of jump on you, or others. While he is about to "jump up" cue for a sit, or fetch a toy, say hello with a paw etc. Reward immediately after he offers the desired behaviour, repeat and reinforce by treating the successful result.
The "attention" seekers, will eventually understand, that gain a treat, caress, game time etc. will result from a calm and polite behaviour.
Digging is a completely natural activity for dogs. Some do it to find a bit of freshness in hot weather, others simply because they are bored, or they are prevented from performing a behavior for which they are highly motivated, but more often dogs dig because it's a nice hobby!!!
You can correct this unpleasant - for some people - behavior, by showing to your dog there are limits and guiding him to the appropriate place to do that.
You can correct this unpleasant - for some people - behavior, by showing to your dog there are limits and guiding him to the appropriate place to do that. In case you have a garden, fence the place you want to protect and leave an area open, where you allow your dog to access. Introduce him to this space and have fun with your dog, motivating him to stay to play and express himself.
Stress and/or Anxiety
Stress is a natural et biological phenomenon, which a priori allows the dog to protect himself. A stressed or anxious dog, experiences an emotion he can not control. The reasons which trigger the anxiety are several, not to mention our own daily stress, that we communicate to him, involuntarily. When the stress persists after the stressor is gone, it becomes anxiety. The most common of all, that of separation anxiety, an extremely important problem to solve and the most difficult and time consuming to deal with, as it can relapses when there is a change in our lifestyle and routine. The successful modification is based on patience and perseverance, starting by familiarising the dog to small, a few-minutes absence, which will gradually evolve into longer ones. On returning home, avoid the big manifestations of joy and the exaggerated gestures, stay calm and congratulate - reward your dog, with treats or play but only when he will be equally calm. To make their life easier before we leave the house, we can offer them some physical and/or mental exercise, if there is not time to devote them, we can use toys like Kongs and puzzles with treats, to keep them busy, during our absence.
You should know that dogs have a natural instinct to try to avoid, or resolve conflicts, rather than creating them.
A genetic deficiency on the other hand, can cause the aggressiveness of the animal in spite of all the efforts of a good education and socialisation. Stress, fear and aggression are closely related, a dog demonstrating aggression tells us that he is stressed in one way or another. Aggression is a defense reflex which serves as a warning, before escalates to attack.
Virtually all types of aggression (defensive, competitive, territorial, guard, pain-induced, etc.) result from a lack of self-confidence that leads to fear. Training with coercive methods, force et reprimands can also lead to aggression. All dogs can get to the point of biting and for different reasons: a lack of socialisation, a bad experience, a predisposition to fear, irritation, a very "dominant" owner, a bad diet, a medical problem and so on. Therefore, it is always possible to avoid aggression, simply by observing the signals that your dog communicates.
Coprophagia (the consumption of one's own feces or those of others) is a behavior triggered by multiple reasons.
This could be the curiosity (in young animals), or to compensate for a nutritional deficiency, due to pancreatic deficiency, intestinal parasites, boredom, stress or simply for the taste.
Researches show that gourmet dogs are more susceptible to coprophagia or even PICA, when health problems are excluded. Commercial anti-coprophagia food additives, do not provide the 100% efficiency we hope for.
During a study, none worked more than 2% and many had no effect at all.
The punishment will not give the good result either, the dog's desire is still there, even if it provides us momentarily the acceptable behavior. We should probably try to proactively deal with the problem, by calling the dog towards us and distance him from the fecal matter, as much as possible.
Certified - Canine Reactive Behaviour
UK Rural Skills
Accredited - Canine Reactive Behaviour