Does Odd Behavior Equal Bad Dog Behavior?
It is important to understand dog behavior; after all it is a long term-engagement. You and your dog will live together for anywhere from 8 to 15 years. There certainly are some conflicts when dogs coexist with humans – luckily almost all can be cured with training. Whether we think an action is a good or a bad dog behavior is irrelevant, to them it is all just life!
In this article, we will adopt positive reinforcement as our only approach. Behaviors are made, not born, and most of the time humans are responsible for creating them. Every dog is unique since behavior is highly influenced by his environment. Knowing the roots of the problem usually presents the solution.
Our approach is a compromise. Understand that as far as they are concerned there is no problem. Your dog chews up your wooden furniture… yes, that is a problem, but is chewing an unpardonable sin? We have to communicate to our dogs that chewing the right objects is okay. However on his own, he has no way of knowing which objects in the house can be chewed and played with and which are off limits. Do not expect him to know the house rules the day you bring him home, it is your job to teach him what we consider bad dog behavior.
- Howling- howling makes our hair stand on end. The strange sound is associated with ghost stories we heard from our grandparents and horror movies. But to the wolves and dogs, it is a chorus led by one then joined by the others in succession. Dogs howl to announce their locations, to express isolation, and according to some researchers, as a form of remote communication between neighboring packs.
- Another common question is ‘Is my dog abnormal for trying to hump my leg’? Sexual experimentation in dogs is normal during the maturation process. It becomes a habit (and a problem) only when owners tolerate the early signs of these actions. If the sex object is a pillow, a piece of furniture or any other object – keep it away from your dog. Interrupt with the most accessible material and divert with an invitation to play or go out for a walk.
- Digging- this occurs for several reasons like boredom, temperature, investigation and simply copying other dogs.
- Coprophagy- (eating poo) This is a distasteful habit that often has us cursing our dogs, especially if we catch them in the act, and is perhaps the most disgusting bad dog behavior. Also with regard to health for dogs, it’s not very good for them. The first step in correcting this is to bring the dog to a veterinarian as he may be suffering from gastrointestinal problems. Stool eating is also caused by indigestion due to overfeeding. If we feed beyond what the dog can digest, the undigested food is passed out then later serves as another meal. Sometimes humans contribute to this unpleasant habit when they clean up the mess in the presence of their dogs. Dogs use their waste as “markers” to signal their presence in the area. When we clean up their stool while they can see us, it is similar to giving them attention and acknowledging their presence. When we sold our dogs for relieving themselves inside the house, we also create an association between the stool and punishment so the dog eats the poop to hide it from his owner and avoid punishment.
- Resource Guarding- this is predominantly paranoia. The dog must have learned this behavior at a younger age. When he was still a wild animal, he had to be competitive in order to secure food. It is a bad dog behavior that probably originated in the litter, when the dogs as young pups had to contend with his littermates for his mother’s milk. Aggression towards humans in this context however requires immediate attention and correction. Not only is it dangerous to the owner but it can cause the dog to be put down for fear of attacking people.
Essentially, we will use two paired approaches in dealing with canine behavioral problems. Your first line of defense is to control the environment. It is your responsibility to ensure that things go smoothly in your home that you are now sharing. We cannot expect the dog to know the house rules the day we bring him in, so it’s best to expect him to occasionally chew, bark, bite, urinate, defecate, chase cats, dig, etc. at first. Behavior improves rapidly once you start training.
Second will be to interrupt and divert. A strong stimulus like a loud noise should trigger a dog’s survival reflexes; the so-called mammalian stress response – to induce him to leave what he is currently engrossed in. It could be a clap, heavy food tap, or dropping an object on the floor. Take note, however, that your objective is NOT TO SCARE THE DOG. It is simply to divert his attention away from the problematic bad dog behavior.
Hopefully now you have a good idea of how to eliminate some of those problematic behaviors that are driving you around the bend! If you liked this, be sure to read How To Stop Dog Barking – another popular article on this site.