Dogs are social animals that form close relationships with their family members. Many behaviour problems can be prevented by providing for their behavioural needs and training them so they understand what is being asked of them.
- Ensure your dog has plenty of exercise several times a day. Dogs that do not have enough exercise will become frustrated and bored. If you need to leave them alone, make sure you leave them with plenty to do.
- Be aware that behaviour that is rewarded tends to be repeated. Dogs will find reward in your attention (regardless of what you say!), in toys and food, so take care with what you reward. A dog that receives praise for jumping up, for example, will learn that jumping up is the right thing to do.
- If you get a puppy, make sure they come from a reputable breeder that has taken time to socialise the puppy to different people, animals, sounds, smells and objects they will encounter in adult life. Between the age of 4 and 14 weeks puppies go through a period where they are most sensitive to learning about what's around them. So taking on a puppy at 6 weeks means that this process should have begun with the breeder and it is your responsibility to continue. In doing so it will reduce the likelihood of your puppy developing fears of things it will encounter in its adult life.
- So that you can manage your dogs behaviour effectively, attend regular training classes to work towards gaining a good level of obedience. Practise these skills at home to refresh your dogs memory.
Some behaviour problems seen in dogs include:
- Aggression towards humans, other dogs and other animals.
- Separation problems and overattachment to the owner.
- Fears and phobias, for example to sounds or being left alone.
- Compulsive behaviours, such as tail chasing
- Attention seeking
- House soiling
- Destructiveness, such as tearing up carpet .
- Mounting other dogs or people
Every case is individual and while there are quick fixes available to tackle unwanted behaviours (i.e. spray collars) they are rarely effective and could make the problem worse. The most effective long term method of treating behaviour problems is to check for any underlying medical problems, and then identify what is motivating them to behave that way. Accurate diagnosis is essential in treating behaviour problems effectively.