My dog will not come back when I call him!
When we get a dog we give it a name, it is what we do as humans. Many owners assume that because they have named it then it will 'know' and respond to the name. Without the correct training a dog will never associate this name with what you are asking of it, to come back. The most common mistake is that the dog is actually punished for coming back to the owner or that the name is used as the negative marker paired with a punisher. Many owners also let the dog offlead too soon and actually teach the dog that it really does not have to come back!
My dog goes to the toilet where I don't want it to!
A dogs toileting habits are imprinted very young. If you get a puppy at 8 weeks there is already a pattern of behavior set in place by who ever bred the pup. If they took the time to take the pup out to a grassy area and use a command then reward, you will have very few issues with continuing that training. If the pup was allowed to toilet where ever it stood and was left to live in that waste then you will have a pup that is conditioned to be 'dirty' in it's habits. The use of Puppy pads in the house leads you all up the wrong path. These teach the pup to eliminate in the house on pads on the floor. This then leads to the puppy using the bath mat, your rug, a jumper left on the floor etc. Teach it right the first time and avoid an enormous amount of cleaning! When you adopt an older dog then you have that much more time clocked up of imprinted behavior. It takes time and a whole load of patience to toilet train a dog properly, take that time and be rewarded with a dog that is a pleasure to live with!
My dog jumps up on people!
We have two legs and stand upright so our faces are way up high to a dog. Dogs faces are level with each other or at least within reach. A natural behavior for a dog is to great family members by licking faces, jumping around and being a bit of a dill in general. That is dogs, they are not all like that some have dignity or space issues. We need to teach our dog what is acceptable and what is not through fair and structured training. It is quite simple to fix, call your trainer!
My Dog pulls on the lead!
Many pet dogs do not get out enough for walks so when they do they are usually in a very excited state! A walk is a very stimulating event with new sights, sounds and especially smells! Some people get cranky when their dog keeps wanting to stop and sniff then pulls them towards the next great scent. Scent is an overwhelming experience for a dog, they take in an amazing amount of information through their nose, unlike us. What is needed is to teach them the 'Heel" command as well as the 'Release' command so that a compromise can be made. A dog should not pull hard on that lead when told to heel, they should walk nicely by your side and be attentive to you. On Release mode they can sniff, pee, etc but all of this should happen on a 'loose' lead. Talk to your trainer.
My Dog Does......Why?
Most behavioral issues in dogs lead back to the same initial beginnings. In the first 16 weeks of life, called the Critical Period, a dog requires many things. If these needs are not met then the dog will never reach it's full potential of who it can be.
The Genetics of the dog play as much part in this outcome. A dog that has the combination of nervous or fearful genetics plus limited stimulation or training during the critical period will always be limited in what it can cope with for the rest of it's days.
On the other hand if pups are bred from well balanced and outgoing stock, well socialized and well trained then you will have a great dog that can be put to work in many and varied ways. It can also be a safe and happy family dog.
The most common complaints that people have about their dog is as follows:
My Dog Barks!
There are a list of questions you need to ask yourself if you are having this problem with your dog. What is stimulating the dog to bark? Is it the neighbors cat teasing it from the fence? Kids next door playing? A crook breaking into your house?
Is the dog just bored? If this is the case does it have anything to do while it lives it's days away in your yard? Has it got something to chew on? Somewhere to dig or swim? Toys that activate it's drives and engage it's brain? No? Well maybe these are places to start! Has the dog been trained? Does it understand the concept of 'speak' and 'quiet'? Or is it a case of he barks then you bark?
My Dog Does not play nicely with others!
Dogs need to learn manners just as humans do. We learn through example as well as what we are told is acceptable and what is not. In short we learn social skills. As children we go to school and in a group format we learn how to interact with others of our own age as well as adults. Dogs need a similar format to teach them what is ok and what is not. Pups learn so much from interacting with older dogs. If the older dog is well trained and social then it will teach a balanced response and a respectful one in the pup as they engage. A fearful or aggressive adult will teach the pup to be fearful and have an aggressive response later in life. Monkey see monkey do. So we need to regulate what our dogs are exposed to and teach them to tolerate other dogs. We also need to teach them that personal space for other dogs should be respected. Sadly, we need to teach other dog owners the same principles.
My Dog growls if we go near him when he is eating
This is a common issue but one that needs to be addressed by a qualified trainer. Any aggression issue has many underlying causes and if approached in the incorrect way then injury can result as well as re imprinting to the dog that aggression actually gets them what they want. A self rewarding behaviour is a difficult one to undo as there will already be a pattern set in both the human and the dog. Once your confidence is shaken then you can actually be prompting an aggressive response from your dog by your actions. Make the call and sort the issue before it becomes more serious
My dog is rough around the children
Dogs take on the energy of those around them. An elderly person will often prompt a very calm and careful response from a dog even if that dog is usually more energetic. Children tend to run at warp speed with fast actions and high volume. This then triggers an immediate response in even the calmest of dogs. A young pup will become a whirlwind in this situation! The training then becomes a two pronged attack of teaching both the kids and the dogs what kind of play is appropriate and stepping in with boundaries and 'time out' for both parties if the rules are not adhered to.
My dog escapes!
Some dogs become escape artists and it feels that whatever you do does not seem to work. We have all been there! Escaping is a self rewarding behavior, it feels so good! They get to run amok with no supervision, go where they want and do what they want. Fulfill all those dog fanatsies!
Sometimes escaping is a sign of anxiety, fireworks and storms are a common trigger. In this case then the problem becomes more complex and you will need to look at not only training, socializing as well as nutrition and general health.
A roofed and floored pen is your best friend. It gives your dog a safe environment to kick back and relax in while you are gone and you will then want to get them out and interact when you get home because they have not run away and caused you stress. This also avoids property damage, fines from the council for dogs wandering, neighbor complaints, vet bills from injuries incurred, dog fights, snake bites etc etc.
My dog listens to me but not to the rest of the family!
A dog will bond with the person who puts in the most time. But they are also a heirachial kind of animal so they listen to the man of the house first, then the next adult in line and so on down to the youngest. They can be quite sexist too so the lady of the house may need to man up a little to be respected and listened to. Sad but true. Some families have a strong female lead that does all the work so the dog will naturally be more inclined to follow directions from her. It may be the man of the house that fulfills this role for the dog. Children will often get treated as puppies and in the dogs mind are there for play and not for direction. A balanced training program that incorporates the entire family into the equation will level the playing field and teach the dog that it must listen to every family member. This training also teaches every person in the house how to teach, communicate and modify the dogs behavior. There needs to be a united front to win the war!
My dog .......
Fill in his next topic yourself. Have a think about your relationship with your dog and what you would like to see change. If you have low expectations of your dog and it's ability to learn and change then I am afraid that they will meet those expectations. Raise the bar folks!! What is your 'ideal'??
Think about it, talk to other dog owners. What do they get out of their dog that you do not? Make a wish list of what you would like to be able to achieve with your dog. Do you want to travel? Have a safe and happy dog in any environment? Do you wish to use your dog in film and television? Do you want to be able to take your dog into schools or elderly homes? Training on both ends of the lead will give you this and so much more. Effort, patience, learning, humour and the ability to change will give you a dog you can love, trust and be proud of. Get training!