The Root of Bad Dog Behavior
How often do you hear ” I have no idea why he does that?”, or “she just started doing that”, when someone is discussing their dog. Whether it’s barking, growling, begging or a number of other bad dog behavior that is considered bad.
Often times these behaviors are attributed to the behavior being encouraged by the owner and the actual negative behavior is awarded. The awarding of this behavior is often not even noticed, or thought about when doing it. Dogs are very intelligent and they learn often through awards or pain.
Often times to get the wanted result for a good behavior an owner will encourage a bad dog behavior. Let’s look at some of the ways we as owners encourage negative bad dog behavior through our pets.
Begging is one of the most annoying types of bad dog behavior an owner can deal with. Whether it be an annoying whine while you sit at the table trying to eat, or a total jumping up on the dinner table begging is one if the worst behaviors a dog can have. Often times an owner will simply blame the dog and say he or she has always begged. The truth of the matter is once you begin feeding a dog human food you are truly creating the behavior. If you ever have given a treat at the table it will definitely cause a problem. A lot of owners don’t realize that teaching sit with treats is often the beginning of teaching a dog to beg. Think about it, treat training of almost any kind will reinforce begging. This is why most beggars will sit, stay, or speak as they beg. In the mind of a dog the act of begging is probably no different than the act of completing these commands!
Barking is one of the bad dog behavior types that can result in angry neighbors and the police being called. Barking excessively at any sound, any stranger, any change in temperature generally will get the nuisance tag applied rather quickly! Now I know many will argue that they never have encouraged the bad behavior of barking. There are numerous ways however that the behavior is reinforced throughout a dogs life. Through the encouragement of speaking, the teasing and agitating when playing to get the dog to bark for what it wants (generally a toy just out of reach). To the encouragement to bark when the dog is unsure of itself. The latter is generally the culprit that leads to a nuisance barker in some cases. Anytime a dog is unsure and an owner asks “What is it boy” to encourage a bark or growl, they are in essence enforcing the behavior to bark when a dog feels uneasy. Every time a dog barks and we smile and give it attention in a way we are teaching that barking is a great way to get our attention. This is why dogs often bark when they are left alone, or unsure of a situation. Feral dogs rarely just bark at nothing, because they are trying to avoid attention, whereas a family pet is trying to gain attention one of the best ways it knows how.
The act of jumping up or jumping on ones owner or house visitors can be a frustrating type of bad dog behavior and actually day ruining in some cases. Often times images of jumpers are large dogs that can actually do bodily harm if they jump on an unsuspecting individual. A Saint Bernard jumping on an elderly grandmother and knocking out a hip replacement, or bowling a toddler over in its exuberance is definitely not a habit that one would think is ever reinforced. The truth is as dog owners we often overestimate our dogs ability to separate humans from one another. We often ask them to truly understand humans as strangers and humans as friends without truly ever introducing them to the difference. If dad who is six foot four allows the family dog to jump on him, the dog may not understand why Granny wouldn’t like the same greeting. If mom allows the Yorkie to jump in her lap why wouldn’t two month old baby Lauren allow the same. Without consistency a dog is truly lost to its own decision making processes and thoughts and often times they are dog thought out rather than people thought out increasing bad dog behavior .
Pulling on Leash
Everyone loves watching a great sled team, or a dog pull an enormous amount of weight. Whether it be stacks of concrete or a car. The strength of dog has always amazed us, yet on a neighborhood walk that awe quickly turns into frustration, irritation, and hatred. The dog that nearly pulls your arm out of the socket, or drags it’s owners through wet grass and through its own freshly laid poop, is not exactly loved at that moment. In fact it is quite the opposite. The puller is a burden that no pet owner wants it turns one of the most enjoyable aspects of owning a dog into the most dreaded chore of the day. Pulling generally starts as a puppy when the pulling does little to create discomfort for the owner so it is ignored. Sometimes the actual behavior is encouraged by laughing and joking about it. The most encouragement you can give a puller is to just ignore it. We as owners then make it not only acceptable, but a part of the process of walking. The dog learns that this is what walks consist of, virtually dragging their human down the road. What owners walk their dogs with also add to the issue, retractable leashes and harnesses both encourage pulling. The discipline to change the behavior starts with the owner, simply changing direction and teaching our pets that they are following us, we are not following them. Taking the lead and becoming a leader!
These are just a few of the common bad dog behavior issues that we as owners send mixed signals on, but there are definitely others, chewing, urinating, and scratching all can sometimes be traced back to what we do as owners that confuse our pets into bad destructive, annoying, or frustrating behaviors. Knowing what we do and correcting our actions before our pets, can often fix quite a few of these disorders and actions.