Dogs really are man’s best friend. They’re loyal and silly, they make us laugh, comfort us when we cry, and are an integral part of the family. But just like humans, dogs can experience issues which can leave them out of sorts. It could be a lack of socialization as a pup, something frightening which has made them anxious, or something you have encouraged without even realizing. Here are just a few of the behavioral issues you might face as a dog owner and what to do about them:
Aggression: Aggression in dogs can be targeted towards humans, other dogs and animals, or even objects such as bicycles and cars when you’re out on a walk. Fear often manifests itself as aggression, and a puppy that hasn’t been exposed to lots of different stimuli can grow up as a fearful and aggressive dog. Aggression can also come about due to resource guarding, where your dog feels it has to protect food, treats, toys, and even space. Aggression can be a tricky issue to deal with when it comes to dogs. For everyone’s safety, consulting a dog trainer or expert is in your best interests to make sure that you’re not aggravating the situation. The last thing you want is to make matters worse. Punishing your dog for aggression for example is likely to intensify the situation and make them more prone to biting.
Digging: Digging is a natural doggy behavior, but some dogs will do this more than others. In some cases it can become a huge issue, dogs can tear up gardens and even floors in the home. Digging is good exercise and is fun for dogs, so how about setting up a designated ‘digging area’ in your garden? Redirect them to this when they begin to dig, and use plenty of praise. This behavior might also indicate that your dog is full of energy. Taking them on longer walks could help to keep down their desire to dig.
Barking: Barking is one of the ways that your dog communicates with its humans and other animals. Different barks can mean different things, from ‘there’s someone at the door’ to ‘give me attention’ or ‘get away from me before I bite!’. Understanding your dog’s different barks will help you to give them what they need, although in some cases dogs can bark excessively. This can become a nuisance and can even land you in trouble with your neighbors or landlord. People have even been fined due to noisy dogs!
Correct barking behavior by getting your dog’s attention and diverting it elsewhere. Don’t ever use violence with dogs, but a nudge could help to ‘snap them out’ of the zone that they’re in. Teaching your dog commands like ‘bark’ and ‘stop barking’ using treats, praise, and rewards can help, too. That way when they begin to bark you can use the command to stop and praise them with a treat. If nothing seems to be helping, seeking professional training might be the way to go.
Begging: Dogs are very food motivated. This is great as it makes them easy to teach, most dogs will do anything you ask to get their paws on a tasty snack! However, it also means that whatever you have to eat, your dog will have eyes for. If you give your dog table scraps and food from your plate, you’re encouraging a lifetime of begging behavior – and dogs aren’t subtle about it! They will happily sit with their head on your knee or right next to your face while you eat given the chance! You can stop begging behavior by simply never feeding your dog table scraps. If you have leftovers that are suitable for dogs such as meat, vegetables, rice and other good stuff- scrape it into a container for later. That way they don’t associate you eating (or finishing your meal) with them getting fed.
You could also make them sit in their bed or in another room while you eat, or even use a soft crate. Unlike a wire crate, this is easy to collapse and is portable, so it’s useful for when you travel and not quite as imposing as other models. If you’re wondering what the best soft dog crates are on the market, there are plenty of reviews online. Dogs might also beg because they’re hungry. Making sure that you’re giving enough food for the size of your dog will help to prevent this. There are usually feeding instructions based on weight on most dog food products or you could ask your vet if you’re unsure.
Chewing: Dogs like to chew. Having a toy or bone for them to chew on can clean their teeth, vent their frustrations, and keep their mind busy which tires them out. However, some dogs won’t just chew their own possessions but anything in their path. This can be dangerous since they might choke on small parts, gnaw on something toxic, or even through wires giving them an electric shock. Teaching puppies what they can and can’t have is essential. Destruction is often a result of frustration or separation anxiety, so making sure that your dog is well exercised and not leaving them alone for long periods should help with this. You may find that confining them to a crate or one room is necessary to keep them from chewing up things that they shouldn’t. If you know your dog is a chewer, be extra cautious not to leave anything lying around that they can get a hold of. Wires should be tacked to walls using wire clips, shoes should be put in a cupboard, and anything else that might become a target should be moved – especially when your dog is unsupervised.
Keeping your dog healthy, making sure that they get enough exercise, and socializing them well when they’re young will help you to avoid all kinds of issues. However, sometimes they can still crop up either due to an experience that they’ve had or just out of the blue. A dog trainer or your local vet can provide further advice if you’re stuck. LONG LIVE DOGS!!! ❤
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