Understanding k9 behavior

Having a dog is one of those things that pretty much everyone does once they grow up. Whether you get one as soon as you have your own place, wait until you are married with kids or get one once the kids are older you like most others have a dog. The unfortunate thing is that humans do not come with a built in understanding of canine behavior. Even people who have had dogs for years may still not really understand them. I've run into many people who really consider dogs to be human. Not as little humans on four legs but they read their behavior and actions with the same meaning as ours.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about canine behavior is that they are spiteful. Many of my clients have told me that their dog was mad so when they went out they destroyed the place. Dog's don't do spite; they are not constantly planning how they can ruin your prize possessions on a daily basis. What dogs do do is to display their emotions; a destroyed home can mean one of many things. First the dog was plain bored; the dog has some separation issues or the dog has pent up energy that needs releasing.

Dogs are simple yet complex; they tell it like it is. But; if you really want to know what is going on with your dog or dogs you must learn about canine behavior. And like I am always preaching; you must watch your dog because dogs are constantly communicating even when you think that they are not. Your reactions to your dogs actions have a huge impact on their future behavior. If you are a calm leader your dog will follow by example. If you get flustered and upset by unwanted behaviors like barking, jumping or chewing then you will end up with a dog who becomes even more excitable.

A great example of this is door barking; we all have dogs that bark at the door. But what do you do when the dogs charge the door at the first sound of the doorbell? If you scream and yell and run after your dog for all the barking; guess what? You are creating more problems. What you should do is calmly ask for quiet; reward it if you get it. If you don't; then calmly approach the door and ask the dogs to move away and you will take it from there. This does two things; it shows your dog that the door is not something we get worked up over and gives you the chance to "be the one in charge."

Growling is another behavior that is often misunderstood. I have heard people say "I don't allow growling in this house." Growling is one way that a dog communicates; it is a very clear message on how they are feeling. When a dog growls it is giving you information; you may need to work on a guarding issue, perhaps your dog needs more socializing or your dog may need some "you are not the boss," work. Depending on who is being growled at; what environment the growl the growl took place in and what was going on that caused a growl. Never ignore a growl; and never ever stop a growl without knowing where it is coming from. Once you know why your dog is growling then you can work on the issue that causes the growl. Stopping a growl by punishment takes away your "heads up." Without a warning; you are left with an unpredictable dog, not good for anyone. And definitely not fair for your dog.

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