I am often asked if there is such a thing as a bad dog. Like getting a “lemon for a car”. Except for rare occasions where genetically a dog has been overbred or comes from an aggressive line, there is no such thing as a bad dog.
Virtually any behavior can be overcome. Does your dog charge the door? Not walk correctly on leash? Growl at other dogs? These behaviors don’t result from the dog being bad; rather, the owners being inconsistent in their communication with a dog.
Here are some of the primary reasons dogs misbehave:
- They can’t understand what you are saying. Your dog can’t speak English and you can’t speak dog, so many miscommunications occur. For instance, dog owners tend to overuse the word “no”, and your dog may hear it so many times he begins to think it is his name. Or you might be sending mixed signals telling him not to beg at the table while your children are secretly sneaking him the Brussel sprouts they don’t like.
- They get bored. Not just puppies get bored, but adult dogs as well. A bored dog is a mischievous dog, one that likes to chew, dig and eat your shoes. A tired dog is a good dog! It’s important that you take your dog for a walk everyday or get some form of exercise to wear out that excess energy. Dogs need both mental and physical exercise.
- They are being corrected at the wrong time. The other day I had a client who kept correcting her dog hours after a bad act had occurred. She came home from work and found her dog had gotten into the garbage. She stuck his nose in the mess and yelled “No, no, no”. Unfortunately, dogs do not have the reasoning skills a human has so he did not put his bad act together with her correction. If you want to correct a dog, you must do so immediately after he misbehaves.
- They do not have a routine. Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. They like to get up around the same time every morning, go out to potty, eat in the same place, etc. Although dogs are flexible it is important for them to know what to expect. Drastic changes in environment or routine can really throw them off, causing anxiety that is commonly expressed as problem behavior.
- They don’t know who is boss. Initially your dog thinks of you as just another dog. You have to establish yourself as the “pack leader”. In the wild, pack leaders do not give affection to lower members of the pack unless it is earned by displaying favorable behaviors. What they do give are rules the pack must follow, limits to what they are allowed to do, and boundaries that the pack must not cross. This will make your dog feel safe and secure.
If your dog has a behavior problem the first person you need to look to is yourself. How do you respond? There is an excellent chance you have been reinforcing the behavior with attention, and may have actually trained your dog to perform that behavior without meaning to.
That’s the beauty of Greg Knows Dogs. I train YOU even more than your dog! I teach you how to communicate with your dog in a language he understands to overcome any misbehaviors that make him less than a stellar family dog!