Positive modification

Good morning; its midweek and the weekend is just around the corner. With June upon us many of us will be out and about with our dogs more; which means that behaviors are going to arise. Both good and bad but how you deal with both makes a huge impact on furture behaviors. What is your reaction to a behavior?

Many behaviors catch us off guard and our human reactions are not good ones. We often over react negatively which can actually make a behavior worse instead of better. Take the example of your dog not coming to you. You took them to the park and decided to give them a bit of freedom; then when you called them they opted not to come. They were having fun and chose not to end this freedom. You then scream and yell; finally get your dog to come and go off on him, scolding him serverly. Think he is coming next time? Probably not.

Dogs are much smarter than we give them credit for; so smart that they often outsmart us because of our impulse to react before thinking. Did you do a ton of recall training before deciding to give your dog some freedom? If not then letting them off leash is a very bad idea. Teaching our dogs to come to us must be ingrained as a positive thing. "If you stop having fun and do what I want you to do; I will reward you, we will have a party."

Solutions to behavior issues should be thought out and the steps mapped out clearly so that you know the means to the end. Feedback both vocally and physically must be timed to perfection. Mis timed feedback can undo or offer no education to your dog; so work on your delivery. Often looking at a behavior from a different perspective really helps; hence hiring a professional is usually a good idea.

A good example of a very misunderstood behavior is separation anxiety and its fallout behaviors. You may come home to find poop all over your house or the neighbor is complaining about howling. Many people accuse their dog of being spiteful and upon discovery of the mess go into a fullout attack of their own. This only increases the stress level of your dog each time you leave putting them in an awful state of never knowing. Never knowing what will happen when you open that door; wanting you home but dreading your arrival.

Dogs who have true separation anxiety need help; your help to overcome the behavior that has stricken them. Just like with other misunderstood behaviors we can make or break them. It is our job as canine guardian to research and discover what is going on in those little canine minds. And what we see from a human perspective may be way off the mark in dog terms.

As I have said many times before dogs learn through association; action/reaction. And when you take an unwanted behavior, think about your reaction and its implications to the action it may be fuel for further unwanted behaviors. Dogs minds do not work like ours do; it can get complicated and it can be as simple as sitting back and thinking before reacting.

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