To be truly and genuinely effective in canine awareness, we must accept the the fact that most “problematic” dog behaviour is usually only a symptom of something else.
This is why some dog trainers can change a dog’s behaviour, using any method that works, yet still leave a dog worse off than before the training began.
Cause and Effect
The reason for every single behaviour is usually well-hidden behind the behaviour itself. If you work with, want to work with or even live with dogs it’s important to burn the word why into your mind. The aggressive dog might be covering up fear, the stubborn dog might be extremely anxious underneath and the dog that seems not to be listening may be confused because he’s never learned what we mean when we ask something of him.
We all have a reason why, not just dogs. Humans are just as complex. The gossiper is highly insecure and uses gossip to keep people around them and feel safe. The bully is desperately trying to cling to their own self-respect which has been taken from them along the way and the loudest person is often the one who doesn’t really understand respectful social skills thus becomes rejected because of it.
Dog behaviour is not what we dive into when we are helping dogs and their people. The behaviour is the symptom of something else and whatever that something else is, that’s what we work on. It could be a deep well of experiences, muddled up with fear. It could be high levels of stress or anxiety or it could be an underlying health disorder that needs careful veterinary diagnosis and treatment.
If we simply change a symptom of anything, the problem doesn’t go away, it just moves around a bit.
Why We Don’t Punish
Punishing a fear symptom makes a dog more scared. Using aversion on stress, causes the dog to be more stressed. This dog may seem to improve for a short time, but changing symptoms alone has a pressure cooker effect, and one day the cooker will blow. This is exactly why we never, ever use punishment techniques to alleviate behaviour, because it removes the symptoms and exacerbates the problem.
Plus of course, only uneducated people hurt dogs in the name of training.
So, remember, whenever you approach the behaviour of a dog, with view to change ,ask why, are you aware of both the symptom and the underlying cause? If not, observe some more before you begin.