Dogs are continuously learning new things – some good and some bad. Many people often forget that dogs understand things a lot differently to us which makes it easy to make a few fundamental mistakes with a new four legged family member. Because of this, the results when trying to make things better can be disastrous both for the dog and their new owners. All too often dog owners have to put up with some very disobedient pets which cause them embarrassment and stress. A lot of the time people just do not know how to go about addressing these behavioural problems and matters get worse by the day. Within a very short space of time, a lovely dog can become such a nuisance it causes problems in the family home – in a few cases the situation gets so bad it can become a question of 'either the dog goes, or I do'! There are many behavioural issues including more severe things like aggression and biting. But things like barking, chewing and digging are also problems that cause dog owners a lot of anxiety. The list is long when it comes to bad habits a dog can pick up. Jumping up is a no-no, whining can really get on peoples' nerves but then so does pulling on a lead or bolting out of a door every time it is opened.
The problems if not nipped in the bud, can escalate to serious issues which leave everyone in your household feeling fed up with what should be a wonderful four legged member of your family. You may find people visit you less and less because they find it hard to cope with your beloved dog. Other people you encounter when you take your dog for a walk might steer away from you because they know there will be a problem and want to avoid any contact with you. It can be very hard to teach a dog NOT to do something that has become a habit and owners shouldn't feel embarrassed when they decide to seek help from a qualified dog trainer. Getting professional help will make life much nicer not only for the dog but for everyone who is associated with them too. Dogs just like children, need to understand the rules and that these need to be followed. Good behaviour gets rewarded whilst bad behaviour is unacceptable.
A lot of dog owners try to remedy behavioural problems themselves without too much success. The reason is because a lot of tips and advice they find on the Internet or elsewhere, do not tell the complete story of why a dog is doing what they do. Without seeing the complete picture it is hard to get to the root of the problem. Joining a dog club where qualified trainers take classes is the best way to help your dog get over their behavioural issues. Taking your best friend along to dog training classes will get much better results because you, as the pet owner can explain to the dog trainers how your dog behaves, when they are good and when they get out of control. The dog trainer can then assess your dog and plan how to solve the problems in the most positive way. It goes without saying that people who are new to keeping dogs would really benefit from joining a dog club – like this they avoid any behavioural problems forming in the first place. Young puppies, just like young children have brains like sponges. They absorb everything new they are taught very easily, and this stays with them for the rest of their lives. A dog finds it easier to learn things right up to the age of 2½, then it gets a lot harder to teach a dog how to be well behaved.
One crucial mistake many dog owners make is to miss out on a window of opportunity when dogs, just like children learn new things extremely easily. A young puppy will soak up everything you teach them very readily, their tails will not miss a beat. These lessons form the building blocks that help a dog become a well behaved and therefore happy and content animal. The more a young dog learns early on in their lives, the easier it is for everyone who has anything to do with them. The best way forward is to teach one new thing to a young dog every single day. It can be anything, even something that in the long run you know you will never ask your dog to do. The lesson is just about teaching your dog to do a variety of things for you. This could include fetching a ball, retrieving a toy and then taking it a stage further by teaching the dog to differentiate between the two objects. This is a particularly valuable lesson that can be modified later on – it is one of the many building blocks that can be worked on. A young dog will absorb the things you teach them with relish and this will last right up to the age of 2½ years old. Some great lessons your dog will really enjoy on a daily basis include the following:
Another mistake many dog owners make is to think they have no say in how the character of their dog turns out. From when a dog is born right up till the age of 2½, they learn new concepts very easily but it is also during this time of their lives that their personalities are formed. As their owners, you have a huge impact on how this develops – you will be a very important factor in the character of your dog during these formative years of their lives. Older dogs with behavioural problems can be re-trained but it does take a lot longer and a lot more patience as well as effort has to be put into their re-training program - even with the help of a qualified dog trainer.
Lastly a common mistake that many dog owners make is to overreact to a situation which dogs pick up on extremely quickly and join in the excitement, very often barking and jumping up. Many dog owners don't even realise they are teaching their pets to misbehave and one of the most common mistakes they make is to reward their dogs by giving them attention when they should in fact ignore them. It is very easy to just cave in to your pet just as it is to children when they are being naughty, but in fact you are just creating a problem that will only get worse. You need to be very strong with your four legged friend and when you say 'no' this means no and you should not have to keep repeating the word to get a reaction from them. In the end by being harder on your dog you will end up with a much nicer friend who will ultimately be a happier creature too.
If your dog has behavioural problems and they are making your life a misery then you need to get all the help you can. There is no disgrace in getting this from someone who knows what they are talking about. Joining an agility club or dog training club will be a great solution that both you and your dog will thoroughly enjoy and the result will be very rewarding.
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