By Karen A. Soukiasian
The leading causes of canine behavior issues, are:
• Insufficient interaction with owner
• Household energy level
• Lack of training and leadership
• Lack of exercise
We have bred dogs to suit our needs. Some breeds have been honed to be excitable, as they were bred to race, guard, work, or hunt. A sleeping guard dog was useless. A calm Border Collie or Australian Shepherd was not much help to the shepherd. A hound dog that took his dear sweet time tracking may as well stay home and watch the Animal Planet. We have bred and encouraged their levels of biddableness and excitability!
Dogs who are tethered or crated for too many hours, frequently are so frustrated, they do not know what to do when released. They are so happy to be free, the little ‘OFF” switch in their brain is hard to reach. They are going to make the most of the time they have off the tether, or out of the crate. Limit the amount of time your dog is crated, and never tether them!
INSUFFICIENT INTERACTION WITH OWNER
Attention, any kind of attention is better than no attention. Dogs that do not associate calm submissive behavior gets more attention than excitable, destructive, energy, have to be taught calm gets the attention… craziness doesn’t. Many owners play high-energy, aggressive type games with their dogs, such as tug-of-war, or wrestling. They usually are the ones who cannot understand why their dog is not calm! Remember, stay calm!
There are other ways to interact and play with your dog, without making them overly excited. Dogs need mental stimulation, as well as physical activity. Challenge their brains! Spend quality, scheduled time with them. There is a sense of security with schedules. Dogs respond positively to it.
Talk to your veterinarian. Your dog’s food may be the cause of their excitability. The solution may be as simple as a change of diet.
HOUSEHOLD ENERGY LEVEL
Are there revolving doors at your house? Lots of people comings and going? Lots of yelling and running around? Music blasting, TVs blaring, doors slamming? Little or no scheduled routines? Dogs need routines and schedules. There is a sense of security and a calming effect to a dog’s behavior, when there are routines, schedules and a calm household. That sense of security and controlled stimulation does help curb over excitement and misbehavior.
If there is yelling, screaming, or running going on in the house, the dog, being a predator, may become excitable, aggressive, fearful or withdrawn. Dogs respond to their environment. As a rule, calmer households have calmer dogs. Dogs learn by association.
LACK OF TRAINING AND LEADERSHIP
Dogs are pack animals. Your family is his pack. If your dog senses weak leadership, they will take over. It’s a matter of survival. If you have by nature, a high-energy breed, there will be chaos when the dog takes over.
By being a fair, firm, calm, consistent leader your dog respects and trusts, there will be calm in the household.
Start with Leadership Walks. It is amazing what happens when people walk their dogs. The bond is created, roles are made clear, and the relationships change for the positive.
Enroll in a positive reinforcement, punishment-free training class. It’s a fantastic way to bond with your pet and learn how to control them.
LACK OF EXERCISE
Exercise, exercise, exercise! Too often, we hear, “But, we have a fenced yard.” That is not exercise! Most dogs need approximately two hours of exercise per day. Some, not all, needs to be interactive with you. You can include daily walks, playtime, and running with you, plus, if possible, interactive time with other dogs.
Some breeds and dogs, need more exercise than others. If your dog is adequately exercised, they will have fewer emotional issues. They will be less frustrated, less bored and hopefully, very tired! A tired dog is a good dog. Boredom and pent up energy are usually what get them into trouble. Getting into trouble gets your attention!
Bottom line: To your dog, attention of any kind is better than no attention at all. It is your responsibility to teach them, to get positive human attention, they must remain calm.
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