Domestic dogs are expected to behave in a way that may sometimes go in contrast with their animal nature in order to live in harmony together with humans. On the other hand, humans are required to be understandable and respectful of the dog’s nature.
In nature, dogs are carnivorous predators. Hence, in order to survive, their life is based on reproducing, rearing young, hunting and defending (territory, pack and resources). These behaviours are parts of the dog’s instinct. The dog is driven to engage in these actions. But at the same time, these techniques are learned and improved by watching others and through playing.
Humans have leveraged these natural abilities of canines to create dogs good at performing particular tasks like guarding, herding, tracking and retrieving. For example, by mixing dogs that are better than others at protecting resources, pack and territory, humans created breeds of guard and watch dogs.
You can pick any dog that is suitable for you, but it’s important to remember something. If the dog’s needs and the owner’s responsibilities are neglected, behavioural problems may arise.
Oftentimes, behavioural problems of dogs are a normal canine behaviour displayed at a wrong place, at a wrong time.
Certain dog behaviour can go out of control if kept unchecked and create problems that will affect the dog’s life and its owner.
It is important to pay attention even to the mildest sign of what may turn into a behavioural problem to keep the chances of encountering these problems minimised.
There are a few causes that can initiate a behavioural problem and sometimes it can be a combination of few.
1. Unspent energy.
Dogs are not all the same, some are more energetic and some have lower energy level.
Whether high or low energy, a dog needs an appropriate amount of exercise and mental stimulation. If this is denied, the dog will build up frustration which will result in destructive, aggressive and anti-social behaviours.
Make sure to spend time with your dog and provide him or her with a routine and the right amount of exercise.
2. Justifying the dog because it’s still a puppy.
It is always easier to raise a well-behaved dog than try to rehabilitate an adult one.
When a dog (or a puppy) engage in something that is undesired, the owner must correct the behaviour. You should offer directions regarding what is expected of him or her.
Make sure to remove the phrase “Poor little thing!” from your vocabulary. Today it’s a cute puppy looking at you with these big gentle eyes. But in several months it will be a big dog that can cause big damage and serious injuries.
Anyway, remember, when I say correction I do not mean abuse!
3. Early traumas.
Early in life, a dog has different stages when a puppy must be positively exposed to the maximum number of people, animals and situations to socialize the puppy.
There are also fear imprinting stages. During this time, any bad experience can turn into a lifelong trauma. Paying attention to these stages and acting accordingly will make a serious impact on the dog’s future wellbeing.
4. Owner’s denial of the problem.
In many cases, a conduct and emotional state of a dog owner are responsible for creating and triggering certain dog behavioural problems.
The willingness of a dog owner to acknowledge his or her responsibility regarding the dog’s behaviour is of vital importance to fix any problem with a dog.
Unfortunately, it is not rare to meet owners in denial of their responsibility who expect a behaviourist (or whatever expert) to pull out a magic wand and sort out the problem without involving them in the rehabilitation process.
5. Too much love.
I never say that dog owners should not love their pets. Please, do love and look after your pet!
Here, I refer to dog owners that only provide their dogs with affection and never correct them when they misbehave. They never give rules to their pets and even if they do, they never enforce them.
These people are only capable of giving affection to their dogs, even in inappropriate times when the dog is in distress. The latest will only reinforce unwanted behaviours.
This point can also be an extension of point 2, and needless to say, it’s a recipe for a disaster.
Your dog will do something unusual that will disappoint you at some point, no matter how well behaved he or she usually is. It is a good idea to see any situation like that as a red flag. Something may need to be addressed before it turns into a behavioural problem. There are many types of unwanted dog behaviour and each of them requires a different solution. However, most of the canine problems are generated by the action or inaction of their owners.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you like to learn more, please, feel free to subscribe to this blog.
Also, if you like the topic of dogs, please check my book ‘Before You Get a Dog’ by Simone Burani. You will find the essential knowledge written in simple language to have a great time with your pet.