Common Problems That Can Drive Any Dog Owner to Howl.
It’s the same every night: Anna returns home after a long day at the office, and Rowdy, her happy-go-lucky Labrador Retriever mix, leaps on her.
He collides with her instead. Rowdy has almost toppled his diminutive owner on multiple times, despite his sixty pounds and all the energy of his two years.
Anna has paw marks on her midriff and has lost several of her favorite clothing as a result of this. On weekends, when she’s dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and the two of them battle on the lawn, she doesn’t hate the leaping as much.
She is, however, fatigued and wearing heels on a weekday evening. Rowdy still treats her like a trampoline every night, no matter how many times she screams “No!” and pushes him away. She even tried splashing water in his face, but it didn’t work.
Rowdy is clearly attempting to control Anna. He spends more time at home than she does, after all. If she leaves anything out on the kitchen counter, he takes it, and if he can get to it, he distributes garbage all over the floor. He obviously believes he owns the property. Rowdy’s dog walker, who comes every day at noon and walks him for two hours, has no issues with him.
Anna thinks that since she doesn’t reside in the home, he has no need to exert himself over her.
Many of our dogs’ actions are natural and have developed as a result of their intimate human relationships. Nonetheless, some of these habits might irritate us to the point that our connection with our pets is jeopardized.
When our dogs steal our favorite shoes or destroy our pricey new sofa, it may be tough to understand how to alter course and get back on track to a loving attachment with them. Even giving our pets the meds they need may be difficult. What should you do if your veterinarian instructs you to put medicine in your dog’s ears or eyes four times a day, but your dog refuses to sit still or worse, hides and growls at you?
Who wouldn’t be at their wits’ end if Anna was? Nuisance behaviors—jumping, stealing things, garbage diving, dashing through the door, begging, and all the other things dogs do that drive person crazy—can be very annoying and take away from the pleasure of having a dog in your life. The good news is that bothersome habits can be completely avoided and corrected.
We may utilize the dog’s motivation to teach an alternative behavior we like after we get beyond myths like dominance and grasp what genuinely drives him to behave the way he does.
Let’s look at how to deal with some frequent annoyance behaviors like leaping, thieving, and tugging on the leash, as well as some basic activities like cleaning teeth, nail clipping, and medicine administration.
We place a strong emphasis on developing your communication and training abilities so that you may put recommended strategies in place to change your dog’s behavior, resulting in a stronger connection and a longer-lasting partnership.
Not fiction, but facts
Let’s stick to leaping for now. Dogs have developed a welcome ritual to communicate with humans, according to biologists. Canines are born jumping and grinning but have evolved a special welcome style for humans since we lack some of the physical characteristics they depend on for social interactions with other dogs, such as moving ears, tails, and specific glands that carry scent information.
They transmit varying degrees of recognition and connection via ritualized “I’m meeting a person” welcomes. As a result, the difference between a gentle tail wag when a dog meets a stranger and a joyful dance when he welcomes his owner.
Jumping up is therefore a typical canine greeting action, not a bid for dominance. Rowdy has no concept of how Anna wants to be welcomed. Not only that, but when Anna welcomes Rowdy’s leaping up on weekends, she has unintentionally enhanced the jumping by encouraging it a portion of the time—a technique known as “intermittent reinforcement.” Rowdy’s conduct is unaffected by the shoving and scolding since attention is what he seeks after being apart from his closest companion for so long.
Remember that dogs are very sociable animals. As a result, they do a variety of things to capture and retain our attention. They may request that we take them outdoors to excrete, they may be hungry and want food, or they may just want to play or socialize.
They may be uneasy or worried in certain circumstances and are merely asking us what they should do—interact or rest peacefully. Our reaction typically influences how persistent they are and what they do next. They could pounce on us, hump our legs, or grab the remote control, which is clearly a valuable item considering how tightly people grip it.
Dogs that need human attention are known as “people dogs,” meaning they are strongly driven by our interactions. It is then up to us to pay attention to them just when they exhibit the desired behavior (sitting, laying calm, or dropping the ball). A dog that is strongly driven by attention will frequently labor for praise, and a pat on the head may be preferable over food.
Rowdy gets enough of exercise, which is excellent and essential for a young and active dog, but he still spends at least eight hours alone, with nothing to do except garbage dive and counter surf. This is another bothersome activity to us—pointing out that we failed to wipe off the counters from last night’s dinner—but it makes perfect sense to a dog; garbage diving or counter surfing reflects going on a “hunt” throughout the home.
Rowdy goes on “hunting” expeditions when he has nothing better to do, and his well-developed nose can tell him precisely where yesterday night’s spaghetti dish was left on the counter. Many dogs like this kind of entertainment because the occasional reinforcement—sometimes discovering something—is immensely satisfying.
All animals, including humans, are highly motivated by intermittent reinforcement. Consider the Las Vegas effect: the prospect of a regular jackpot keeps us throwing money into a slot machine, even if we only win once in a while. Dogs are no exception.
It’s worth it to keep searching since a loaf of bread is sometimes left on the counter. Intermittent reinforcement is an essential part of training because it helps to establish new behaviors learned via continuous reinforcement (rewarding the desired action every time it happens).
However, if you mistakenly reward your dog for jumping up by giving him attention on a regular basis, putting food out on the countertops, or feeding him from the dinner table, reinforcement might backfire.
Another common canine activity is chewing. Dogs have had to grind marrow and break bones for thousands of years to live.
They begin chewing in the earliest weeks of puppyhood to strengthen their jaw muscles in preparation for this demanding activity. Although food is now delivered in a bowl, our dogs’ chewing instincts are still there.
Chewing is a need for certain canines, while it is optional for others. It’s important to note that it’s a firmly entrenched canine habit in any case. Fido isn’t chewing on your boyfriend’s shoes out of jealousy; calfskin leather is fascinating to him.
What Does This Indicate?
Intermittent reinforcement is when a behavior is rewarded only sometimes rather than every time it happens.
Food, treats, attention, praise, a belly massage, balls tossed, doors opened, leash snapped on for a walk or taken off at the park, going along for a vehicle trip, etc. are all examples of reinforcers.
Dominance: The capacity to obtain and protect an essential resource in competition with another person with whom a social connection exists, such as food, resting spots, territory, or mates.
Dogs perform attention-seeking behaviors to obtain our attention, whether it’s to be fed, patted, or played with.
Mental stimulation refers to actions we do in a dog’s life to boost brain activity and learning, such as interactive toys, games, and other outlets for canine energy that enable canines to participate in natural abilities and drives like chewing, hunting for food, solving issues, and so on. Hide-and-seek toys, chew toys, plush toys with squeakers, and food puzzle toys, such as stuffed Kongs and treat balls, are just a few examples.
Physical stimulation refers to the actions we do in order to boost a dog’s physical activity. Regular play and exercise are critical for the health and enjoyment of any dog.
Extinction burst: A rapid outburst of a declining behavior once it was no longer rewarded.
Is this really the case?
We often attribute human motives to canine behavior, especially nuisance behaviors like tugging on leash walks. This is not only unjust to dogs, but it also creates a power struggle. If we feel the dog is behaving badly or is attempting to dominate us, we search for methods to put him in his place without considering alternative possibilities.
This leads to nefarious tactics like treading on a dog’s toes or kneeing him in the chest to prevent him from leaping, which amounts to punishing the dog for being delighted to see you.
Instead, concentrate on helping our dogs learn what we want them to do, such as sit respectfully in front of us or bark on command when requested to “talk.”
What Should We Do First?
Depending on our preferences, nuisance behaviors may be converted to polite manners or regulated to the point where they no longer irritate us. Here are four approaches:
- Management methods
- Consistent interaction training
- Solutions for training
- Mental and physical stimulation
- Techniques of Management
Many bothersome habits may be avoided or controlled to the point where they are no longer an issue. Remember that management is not the same as training. The dog isn’t learning how we want him to act; he’s merely stopped from acting in an undesirable manner in a circumstance since we have control over the alternatives and consequences.
But, particularly for young animals with nuisance habits, management is an excellent short-term solution, and it often works well enough to please many people in the long run. Management also prevents the dog from repeating the harmful behavior and so developing negative habits by repeating the same actions.
Keep your dog out of the kitchen, for example, to avoid him from climbing on the counter and getting rewarded with leftover food. He will never learn that leaping on the counter benefits him if he is not permitted in the kitchen. Remember that a behavior must be encouraging for the dog to continue; that is why he repeats it.
Setting up barriers such as baby gates and exercise cages, employing humane anti-pull devices like as head halters or harnesses, and simply dog-proofing the home, stowing away food, and keeping desired items out of reach are all examples of management strategies.
Replace leaping on you with sitting by rewarding your dog just when he is seated. There is no need for punishment since he rapidly learns that when he sits, he receives what he wants.
This enables him to experiment with various actions and make the best choice possible.
This sitting habit will very certainly be repeated by the puppy. If your replies are consistent, he will eventually default to a sitting posture for greetings.