The Beginning of a Dog's Relationship with You
Gram and I are sitting on the patio trying to stay in the sun as it is a chilly day here in sunny Florida. Our conversation as usual turns to dogs and their behavior, of course we cheated a bit and discussed what goodies Thanksgiving is going to provide us with, but mainly talked about dogs.
We decided that it is important that people realize that the relationship between a dog and its master is one of the most important things in not only the dog's life, but the master's too. So here is the beginning of some of the things you as a dog owner should be think about.
Understanding your dog's behavior may seem like a complex job, but in reality it really isn't. Dogs are pack animals, they are social creatures, they enjoy other dogs and enjoy human companionship. It is natural for a dog to give of its love and to want love in return.
Dogs want to please their humans. No where on earth can you find a species that is more loyal and loving than a dog, even when the circumstances they might live under are not fit for man or beast.
If this is true, why then, do we have dogs with behavior problems that at times drive their humans batty? Some of the fault lies with their human masters. People consciously and unconsciously cheat their dogs out of things that are necessary for a dog to lead a happy life. With the absence of these things dogs turn to patterns of misbehavior.
What are the missing links that can cause misbehavior? The lack of adequate exercise (dogs need walks and play time,) social interaction with other dogs and humans, and believe it or not dogs need mental stimulation. Dogs also need interaction between themselves and their masters. Talk to your dog. Dogs that are talked to and are made to feel that they are members of the family seem better adjusted, are easier to train and are better behaved.
Dogs are social animals without social interaction with their humans and others they become frustrated and bored. What does boredom do? It leads to finding your own fun, be it good or bad.
If your dog suddenly goes from being a "goody two shoes" to becoming the "monster of the week," the first thing you should do is take the dog to your vet for a check up. It is very possible that an undetected medical problem might be the cause.
If not, the next thing you should take under consideration is your relationship with your dog. Have you been skipping walks and playtime? Has something changed in the usual routine of the household? Has a new person joined the family or a new pet been added? Dogs are animals that like routine, what is familiar feels safe to a dog.
Take some time to analyze what is happening in your household and see if whatever has changed is the cause of the sudden misbehavior.
Sometimes a dog as it grows older has personality changes, some due to genetics and some due to the dog’s own mental state.
Most unacceptable behaviors can be corrected with patience and a little thought. Having a dog is like raising a child, you have to have patience, set a good example and have rules. Dogs, like children need rules.
If your dog has not gone to obedience school or had any behavior training at all, this is a good time to start. Dogs as pack animals always have a leader, in this case, you are your dog's leader and it is necessary for you to establish some rules. Establishing rules does not mean punishment such as hitting, beating or kicking the dog for misbehavior.
Punishment of that kind only creates fear of you and possible aggression from the dog toward you. Dogs respond to praise and treats and they will work hard to earn both.
The beginning basis for a well-trained dog is not only schooling, but also the inner connection between the dog and master. It is very important that while your dog is a puppy, you build a bond of trust and understanding.
The perfect relationship is one in which you almost know, without knowing why you know, what your dog is thinking of doing. If you have that kind of relationship, you can sense what the dog is thinking of doing and can say "NO" before the act ever happens. Not everyone can build that kind of relationship, but when you have it, it really is a wonderful gift.