The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Behavioral Problems in Dogs.
Many of my clients come to me because their dog is exhibiting some sort of behavior that they do not like. Some common examples are:
– Jumping on people when greeting. – Not coming when called.
– Pulling on the leash while walking. – Over excited when in the car.
– Not wanting to get into the car. – Chewing on everything.
– Barking in the car. – Barking in their crate.
These types of problems can be addressed and changed relatively easily.
– Dog-to-Dog on leash reactivity.
– Destructive behavior when left alone.
– Aggression toward unfamiliar dogs.
– Aggression toward unfamiliar humans.
– Possession Agression (guarding)
– Reactivity to young children.
Aggression is a much more serious problem and should be addressed by a qualified Behavior Consultant/Trainer. If your dog is showing aggression toward humans in any way, you need to seek help immediately.
We live in an age of “quick fixes” and it is understandable that people hope that these unwanted behaviors can be changed quickly, inexpensively and with as little involvement on their part as possible! This is not realistic.
Every dog is different but in some ways, every dog is the same. Behavioral work is a bit like detective work. There are a lot of parts and pieces to put together before making a plan to change serious behavioral problems.
My method is to put a solid foundation of training under every dog first, before tackling the behavioral issues. This establishes a clear line of communication between dog and handler so that the dog can be successful. Learning builds confidence in dogs almost immediately.
Once we have a foundation of learning under both dog and handler, we have some skills to use to begin changing the more troublesome behaviors like aggression, through desensitization and counter conditioning. Is it easy? No. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely.
I hope this will help explain to dog owners why trainers can’t just fix one or two serious problems and ignore everything else. Educating a dog is kind of like building a house. You have to start with a solid foundation.