Why Do Dogs Do What They Do?
Why do dogs do what they do?
The answer is fairly simple.
They are dogs doing what comes naturally.
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 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, with out 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.
In the following paragraphs I am going to touch upon some common dog misbehaviors and what can be done to correct them. Patience is our keyword. With that in mind let's move forward.
Digging Digging is fun. Dogs dig for several reasons besides the fact that it is fun. Hot weather and being outside is cause for digging. Dogs do not have the ability to sweat as we humans do, so digging for some cool comfort is necessary.
A nice big hole is also a comfy "nesting spot" to rest and observe the world.
Terriers were bred to dig. They are hunters of small burrowing prey and by their very genetic nature are diggers.
Interesting odors are another good reason to dig. Maybe an old bone is buried in the yard or something else is creating an odor that smells good to the dog.
Boredom is another good reason to dig, as is curiosity concerning the other side of the fence. Some dogs dig to escape.
Fear is another reason some dogs dig. Thunderstorms will scare some dogs and they dig in an effort to get away from the noise.
Solutions: If your dog is digging because it is too hot, make certain he/she has a shady area to stay in. A dog house or some type of wooden or canvas canopy will provide some relief. A great idea is to provide your dog with a "sand box" under a canopy, where it can dig a cool spot and not ruin your yard.
Dig a fairly good sized hole fill it with play sand and surround it with a wooden frame, bury some toys in it and make a canopy cover.
If your dog is trying to escape, try to figure out why. If he/she is not neutered or spayed DO IT, it more than likely will cure the escaping problem.
If your dog is bored and you do not have time to walk or play with him/her, hire a neighborhood teenager to walk your dog and play ball with it..
Do not let your dog out in the yard unsupervised and if it starts digging reprimand it with a sharp "NO."
These are just a few ideas that may help curb your digging problem.
Barking: Barking is also fun, it feels good. Barking is a form of dog communication, it can be a warning or a welcoming sound.
It also can be very annoying to you and your neighbors.
Some breeds like Beagles bark a great deal just for the joy of it.
In case you did not know it dogs have many varieties of "the bark" from a soft "woof" to a very loud growling type of bark. Each bark means something to the dog and if you develop a good "barking ear" you will be able to understand the differences.
Solution: Why do some dogs bark so much? Believe it or not it can be traced to our own behavior toward our dogs. In many ways we condition them to bark.
Think of this "a barking dog gets attention" and attention is what most dogs want. The fact that it might be a reprimand matters not, as long as the dog is getting what it wants and that is your attention.
Some dogs feel very needy and will bark constantly in order to get your attention. To remedy a needy barking dog will TAKE A GREAT DEAL OF PATIENCE on your part.
Simply because you are going to have to IGNORE the barking and the dog. Easily said, but very hard to do.
A needy dog is looking for any kind of attention and that is why you must NOT speak to the dog, look at the dog or go near it while it is barking. Once the dog stops barking, you cover it with pets, praise and treats..
This will not be a quick fix, but you must be consistent and ignore the dog, even though you might be tempted to tape his/her mouth shut. Once the barking stops go through the praise, pet and treat bit every time.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that your pooch will finally get the idea that a quiet dog gets lots of attention and treats, which is what it wanted in the first place.
Yelling loudly or for that matter screaming to the dog to "be quiet" will not help at all. The yelling once again is giving the dog the attention it wants, plus it will think you are playing a game with it.
Hitting, spanking or beating the dog will not have a good result either. You will create fear in the dog and when it sees you, it will stop, but turn your back and it will be back at it again.
Reconditioning the behavior pattern can be done by having the dog do something different when it starts barking, like going to find a toy and getting a treat when it finds it. Giving the dog a "job" that takes its mind off of barking is the thought behind this idea.
Once you start the training process it is very important you do not deviate from it for any reason until the dog has the "no barking" thought firmly implanted in its head.
Granted there are times you do want the dog to bark so choose the barking behavior that is bugging you the most and work solely on that.
If you are living in an apartment and your dog is barking while you are away, there are several reasons for that and each one is handled differently.
Separation anxiety will cause a dog to bark constantly. Many times you, the owner, are the cause of it.
If you find yourself worrying about leaving the dog while you are getting ready and you find yourself going through all that wonderful "baby dog talk" we have been known to go through. STOP IT!
What you are doing is creating nervous anxiety and upsetting your dog.
Instead, do not look, talk or pet your dog while you are getting ready. Ignore your pet completely and don't even think about he/she during the process. Concentrate on work or whatever you are going to do.
Just before you are ready to walk out the door, get your pet's favorite toy and several treats, put them in a room away from the door and without a goodbye, leave. Nine chances out of ten you dog will accept the fact you are gone and will be quiet.
Whether you believe it or not pets pick up on our anxiety and respond to it.
Now if you have a dog that for the most part is kept outside and its barking is annoying your neighbors. That is a wee bit more tricky as you are not home to take control of the situation.
Sometimes dogs bark because they are uncomfortable. Make certain your dog has shelter from the heat and /or rain. Do not tie up a dog and expect it to be quiet all day. A tied up dog can get hung up on so many things and possibly hurt itself besides being in one place all day is "BORING."
An outside dog has many things to make it bark, other dogs barking, noise from trucks and cars, people walking by, boredom and loneliness. To relieve the stress and anxiety your dog is feeling, hire a neighborhood teen to come and walk your dog every day and possibly play with it for a while. Exercise is a great stress reliever and a tired dog will bark less.
I am not a firm believer in using things "mechanical" to stop a dog from misbehaving, however I know that sometimes, it is the only way to control an annoying habit when you are not there to take control.
In researching the Internet I found a great source that has several interesting items that might help in controlling a barking dog when you are not available.
They have "ultrasonic outdoor electronic systems” that operate either with an adapter or batteries, that emit a high pitched sound that can only be heard by the dog, it stops when the dog stops barking and resets itself for the next time.
There are two systems, one for a large yard (Bark Smart Deluxe) and (Bark Smart) for a small yard.
If you are having problems with your dog barking inside your apartment while you are gone there is even a system to help control that (Super Barker Breaker.) When you get to the bottom of the page you will find the link for all these products.
I would advise looking into these items only if all else fails and you are at your wits end
Chewing: Chewing or mouthing items is the only way your dog can acquaint itself with its world. A dog has no hands and as a result has only its nose and mouth with which to explore things with. .
We consider tail wagging as normal dog behavior, well guess what, chewing is, too.
If your dog is chewing up your household the first lesson here is for you, dear human, to "pick up" your stuff. Do not leave "stuff" around as your dog does not know a $100 pair of shoes from the old sneaker you gave it to play with.
Rule "number one" do not give your puppy any old shoes to chew on, any old socks, a leather purse or whatever other personal item you may have.
Simply because your puppy or dog cannot tell a new item from an old one. If the item looks like something he was given to chew, he /she will chew it.
Toys and bones are things puppies and dogs should chew and it is your job to provide "lots" of them.
Dogs do not chew things for spite or because they are mad at you. Dogs and puppies chew because that is what dogs do.
There are many reasons dogs chew, besides the fact that it is what they do, new teeth, loneliness, boredom, anxiousness and fright will cause a dog to chew as a stress escape.
Solution: The first thing you should take into consideration is penning your dog up in a "chew safe" place until it can be trusted not to chew up your things.
Crating your dog if you are going to be gone for a short period of time is a good idea.
However, if you are going to be gone for long periods of time, the kitchen or another room in the house is preferable. The dog needs some space and it needs toys and chewy bones.
There are toys on the market that you can fill up with treats that will keep a dog busy for hours trying to get them out .
The Internet site I mentioned in the dog barking segment also has large and small “treat balls” that not only can you fill with treats for your dog, but you can record your voice.
How neat is that?
A busy dog won't have time to chew the woodwork or table legs.
Taking time to teach your dog to play with its toys is really worth the effort. Once your dog understands that it is only supposed to chew its toys and if it does you will give it all kinds of attention and treats, life will get easier. It is your job to teach your dog.
Chewing is not just a puppy trait it can last until your dog is two or more years old.
Keeping a chewing puppy confined to a specific area is one of the better ways to handle the problem.
A good walk or a hard play period before you leave will tire out your dog and a tired dog will want to rest and not chew.
The chewing stage of a dog's life requires patience on your part. Scolding, hitting or beating your dog will not stop him/her from chewing. As I have said before doing any of those things after the fact, will not register with the dog as to why you are scolding it.
If you catch your dog chewing something it should not be chewing, a sharp "NO" is the best reprimand along with ignoring him/her for a few minutes.
As strange as it sounds, I am a firm believer in talking to your pets. No matter what anyone says, I believe they understand in part what we are saying. Dogs especially need to feel as though they belong and when they have that inner connection their behavior seems to improve.
However, the easiest way to solve this problem is keep your dog in a "chew safe" area until the chewing stage has passed. Keep all valuables up off the floor. Do not leave trash lying around. Keep doors closed and do not under any circumstance give your dog free run of your home until you are certain the chewing stage is under control.
Jumping Up: Jumping up on humans is something a puppy learns when it is very young.
Can you think of anything that is cuter than your puppy running and jumping up to greet you when you come into a room? Of course not and it never occurred to you to even reprimand the puppy when it did it.
You were happy to see your puppy and it felt good to be greeted with such love and affection.
Suddenly your puppy has grown into a 50 lb. dog and it really isn't cute anymore. In fact it might hurt you or could hurt a child or an older person.
Sometimes the jumping annoys us, especially when we are all dressed up, while other times we don't mind it.
There lies the problem, you have to be consistent when addressing the behavior.
Solutition: Jumping cannot be allowed one day and then the next day it is forbidden. Your dog will not understand or even get the message.
You have to be consistent and not allow your dog under any circumstance jump, up at all.
The best solution is to have your dog learn "sit-stay."
If your dog has had some obedience training this should not be a hard thing to accomplish.
If your dog has not had any training, it will be up to you to train him to obey the "sit-stay " command.
First you have to teach your dog to sit and stay. Then you have to teach it to respond to the command when you or someone else comes to the door.
This will take practice and you will need the help of a family member or friend.
The position you will take once the dog has learned the command will be to say "sit-stay" when you open the door, if dog is sitting, you then will kneel down and give your dog a big hug and some pets.
This will undoubtedly take practice and that is where a friend or family member comes in. As you can take turns coning "home" and having the dog practice the routine.
Here is where patience comes in as it may take 10, 20 or more times and several days to accomplish this. Be consistent, give lots of praise and pets when your dog gets it right.
This training will also help if you have a problem of your dog urinating when it gets excited as it is hard for a dog (as well as most humans) to do two things at once.
I have covered a few of the most troublesome behaviors that our dogs can have.
The best advice that I can give you is, to take your dog and yourself to an obedience training class.
Dogs are social animals and they love being around other dogs. Dogs enjoy having to "work" for treats and affection.
A dog without any training will behave exactly like the animal it is, a dog being a dog. It is up to you to become the leader and establish the rule of command. Not with beating or hitting, but with simple rules and commands you expect to be carried out in order to win praise or treats.
Obedience training will help you achieve the behavior you want and both you and your dog will be happier. Training is the best gift you can give yourself and your pet.
For reason as to why you should train your dog read my article on
“Why Train Your Dog.”
As I promised here is the link for the “dog barking” items and for the great “treat balls. You will find many other interesting pet items when you click on HOT DEALS once you are on the Pet Care site. Pet Care