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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Is Your Dog Sending You Barking Mad? How To Deal With Any Behavior Problem

Contributed/Collaborated Post:

While we love our dogs, inevitably there comes a time when they cause us to feel irritated. Dogs don’t understand the subtlety of human emotions or needs. And they certainly have no idea whether they’re doing something that their owners don’t like. It’s a problem, and it’s one of cognition.

Suppose for instance your dog does something you don’t like, like begging at the table. You could shout at your dog, but your pooch usually has no idea that this is an act of aggression. Instead, there’s just as much chance that they interpret it is a form of communication and enjoy it. It’s why you see some owners repeatedly shouting at their pooches to no effect. Dogs just don’t get it. They don’t have the brainpower.

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But what if there was a way to deal with your dog’s irritating behavior once and for all? What if there was a simple trick you could use to stop all the begging, barking, and mad running that drives you crazy?

Well, it turns out that there is. You can put a stop to things like destructive chewing, peeing on the carpet, digging up the garden, jumping up on visitors every time they come to the front door, pulling on the leash and stealing food. All of these behaviors fall into the “annoying” category because they’re not usually a sign of a dog in distress, just one that hasn’t been particularly well acclimatized to living in the human environment.

Preventing A Dog From Driving You Crazy

It’s worth pointing out that your dog isn’t trying deliberately to make you crazy. The reason it's doing what it’s doing is because of its instincts. It has nothing to do with getting revenge on you or trying to make your life miserable. Dogs just don’t work that way. They don’t have a concept of sadism or hate. It’s not in their playbook. All they understand is how they feel right here and now. They’re fundamentally creatures of instinct, looking for ways to make their doggy lives better.

If your dog is tearing up the sofa, the usual reason is that it’s bored and wants to do something fun. The same if it starts scratching up the doors. It just wants attention or the sensation on its paws. If it’s tugging on the lead, it usually means that doing so gives the dog what it wants, such as getting to a particular part of the park. If a dog is ripping up the garden, it’s the same thing again: it’s probably bored.

So what can you do about this sort of thing? How do you avoid these annoying behaviors?

Change The Behavior In Flashpoint Situations

If your dog exhibits problem behaviors in particular situations, then it’s worth working on these specifically and attempting to resolve the issue. If you replace bad behaviors with good, your dog will focus on those instead of doing the things that they were doing previously.

Let’s say, for instance, that you’ve scoured the best wooden dog kennels on the market, but your dog still won’t go to bed at night and prefers to stay up barking in the yard instead. The trick to getting the dog to do what you want it to do is to give it just one behavior to follow that rewards it in each situation. You can be as creative as you like, but the reward has to be simple.

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One idea in this situation, for instance, is to give your dog a treat if it returns to the kennel for the night without barking and withholding treats if it does bark.

You can apply this simple logic to all kinds of situations. For instance, you can teach your dog to sit or go and lie down whenever guests arrive, or the mailman walks up the drive. Getting it to perform an alternative behavior makes it impossible for the dog to bark and get a treat for going to its dog bed to lie down at the same time. It has to choose one or the other, and usually, it’ll select the one with the greatest reward. 

What about things like digging up the garden? Here’s where you’ll need to be a little more inventive. The reason your dog wrecks the garden isn’t because it hates your landscaping, it’s because the dog is bored and wants fun. Digging is just a byproduct. You can’t remove your dog’s desire for entertainment, but you can make it less destructive. Instead of having them dig up the garden, build a sandpit with toys and get them to dig that up instead. Sandpits contain the destruction and prevent it from spilling over onto the rest of your property. When your dog uses the sandpit, reward it.

Never Reward The Behavior You Don’t Want

There’s no point rewarding your dog for the behavior that you do want if you also reward those things that you don’t want.

Dogs are very good at figuring out which tactics get them what they want, and which don’t. But should you just ignore them or do something to prevent their behavior?

Most of the time, ignoring will suffice. Let’s say that your dog barks every evening for food when it sees you making dinner. It could be that, in the past, you making dinner and your dog barking was a way for it to get fed. The best strategy here is to simply ignore it. Eventually, it’ll realize that barking isn’t getting it what it wants and know that the game is up.

The same goes for begging at the table. So long as everyone in the family agrees with the rule that you never feed the dog from the table, the begging will stop.

Finally, if you notice a new positive behavior that you like, reward it intensely. You want your dog to be in no doubt that that is the behavior that they should choose. Rewards can include everything from affirmations to treats - so long as your pooch gets the message. 


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