If only your dog could talk, or if you were the good Dr.Doolittle, here are a few things you might have learnt:
- Rewards make me do it again
The main rule of dog training, but something we often forget. If you see an unwanted behavior recurring too often, try and find that which is reinforcing it and remove the aspect to prevent the behavior from occurring again.
For instance, a puppy jumping up at you and being told “no” each time and gently pushed off. This may actually be reinforcing the behavior as any sort of attention is tempting for most puppies. Keep in mind that a reward doesn’t always have to be food. Playtime, attention (even mere eye contact) and your reactions can all be a positive feedback for a pet dog.
- Wreaking havoc when you are away
Separation anxiety is an all too common anxiety disorder in canines. We have weeded out dogs that are great with people over years of selective breeding, but these breeds often find it hard to cope when left alone.
Signs of separation-related distress include vocals (whining, barking and howling), destructive behavior, escape attempts, refusing food / treats left for them and pacing.
- Not all pets prefer the wide open
Not all pet dogs like to go to dog parks. On the other hand, it can be very stressful for many, who spend their play time actively avoiding contacts with other dogs or even displaying aggression. Only those dogs who visibly express joy in the company of other dogs should be taken to parks. Even then human supervision is required at all times (never OK to leave them behind to get coffee).
- Punishment can be adverse
Dominance-based dog training used to be popular in the past. Many people believed that we needed to display strength, be the pack leader and put other dogs in their place for them to listen to us. Since then, extensive research has proven that this is not true. We now realize that wolves often work and live together in social groups without resorting to aggressive or dominant behaviors frequently.
At it’s best, punishment as a training method is ineffective. At it’s worst, it inspires aggression, reduces your pet’s trust in you, increases anxiety and can even result in physical harm.
- Dogs get old as well
As our pets age, their brains go through the same aging processes that ours do. No wonder, dogs are often used as subjects for studying human aging. The signs of canine cognitive dysfunction (dementia) in your dog could include: changes in sleeping patterns, becoming withdrawn or very clingy, increased anxiety levels, disorientation, confusion, toileting in the house and a visible change in activity levels.
If your older dog displays any of these signs, please bring them to your veterinarian for a full check-up. Remember that several other medical conditions can present similar signs too. We can do a lot of things to support them as they age.
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