The New Year is upon us and with it comes the resolution to solve our dog’s problem behaviours. Take a look at these amazing, must have gadgets that are sure to help.
Seriously now. If you’ve followed the link to this blog expecting to be handed a miracle cure for your Terrier howling at the Postman or your manically humping Spaniel Puppy, you might be in for a surprise.
The way a dog behaves around different stimulus is going to be 99% natural. That’s not to say the cause of the behaviour was natural, but your dog is just being a dog the only way he knows how. If you really want your dog to behave differently, take a look at these options and put the idea of a quick fix out of your mind.
Some of the most common behaviours, that cause problems for people in the home, are directly related to the dog’s energy levels. So treat yourself to a nice comfortable pair of hiking boots and take your dog exploring somewhere new. The enrichment, provided by all the new sites, smells and socialisation allow your dog to express his natural behaviours while using up the energy stores that keep him coiled like a spring at home.
What are you feeding your dog right now? Go and take a look. Is it a can of ‘big brand’ something or other. Do you understand what any of the ingredients on the label are doing once they’ve found their way inside your dog? If exercise is not the issue, diet must be your next consideration. The website dogfoodadvisor.com is a great resource for understanding your dog’s nutritional needs. Buy some real ingredients and cook your own meals.
Books contain knowledge. Knowledge creates understanding. Understanding is the key to finding solutions. So, treat yourself to a book about dog behaviour. Tuning in to ‘happy hour’ on the National Geographic Channel may have given rise to the belief you understand your dog’s body language and reason for ‘dominating’ your life. Add a copy of ‘In Defence of Dogs’ by John Bradshaw to your library and start learning how your dog really feels.
Books aren’t the only way to learn about dogs. Studying canine behaviour with the support of a qualified behaviourist at your disposal will give you a real insight in to how your dog thinks and behaves. You’ll get advice about common behavioural issues, what causes them and things you can both work on to create harmony in your home.
A walking harness isn’t going to solve all your behavioural concerns but if your dog loves to pull on the lead then this might be the closest thing to a quick fix you’ll ever see. Collars are great for holding name tags and identity chips. They may even look nice, but they clearly don’t do anything to stop a determined dog from pulling.
A collar attached to a lead applies pressure to a sensitive are of the body, the neck. For every light tug or accidental emergency stop, your dog is learning that the collar is no fun. A harness distributes any resistance over a larger area, meaning your dog is less likely to be phased by its presence.
For days when the long walk just doesn’t fit in to our busy schedule, an interactive toy will keep a dog occupied, stimulated and learning. Next time you’re in the pet store, picking out a squeaky toy, turn your gaze to all the interactive games on offer. You may pay a little extra but the offer of mental fulfilment to a bored dog is worth the price. You’ll enjoy them too…trust me!
When we think of dog’s during fireworks season (which is apparently October 1st – December 31st now) it should be no surprise that sounds can cause big problems for their stress levels. Recent research in to sounds and related stress by Jon Bowen at the Royal Veterinary College, shows that dogs were more likely to be afraid in environments where there are sounds that they don’t like.
Desensitisation is a slow process that gradually introduces the dog to sounds by beginning at barely audible volume. By increasing the volume over many weeks, the dog becomes accustomed to the sounds and can often cope better with them in later life. Starting this activity on November 4th will not produce any results so prepare well in advance.
A Dog Walker
The vast majority of dogs watch their family leave for work every day. 8 hours alone every day, with nothing more than your thoughts for company, is enough to create psychological issues for the strongest of minds. Having a professional dog walker care for your little ones will provide exercise, interaction, socialisation, enrichment, play, stimulation and so on and so on. Do some research and ask your friends who in your area provides a fantastic dog walking service.
Admission to Behaviour Seminars
If the books and courses have whet your appetite for more canine knowledge, book yourself in to a seminar. Better still, find a webinar that you can watch from home and keep your dog company in the process. The more you learn the more you know.
The Time of a Qualified Behaviourist
If you’ve tried everything on this list and you still don’t know why your dog is chewing the sofa or chasing his tail, look for a qualified behaviourist and book a consultation. You may expect a behaviourist to turn up and train your dog. It doesn’t work this way. No quick fixes, remember?
A behaviourist will observe you and your dog and ask for all kinds of information you may never have even contemplated before. If we rule out the possibility of medical conditions or mental health problems (in your dog) the behaviourist will, most likely, train you. You’re going to learn what needs to be done and work with your dog to create a better environment. The behaviourist will offer support and check in to monitor progress and adjust training as required.
So, next time you find your finger hovering over the ‘buy now’ button for the latest ‘behaviour busting’ technology, take a moment and ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can to understand your dog and fulfil his needs.
Does your dog come with a few quirks? Or have you solved a behavioural crisis with a simple remedy? Let us know in the comments below
Thanks for reading and here’s to a happy 2017 for you and your dogs!