We see a lot of dogs with a wide variety of issues, from lack of recall or focus on the owner, being over social towards other dogs or people or the opposite, being nervous or wary or even aggressive towards them.
What are the causes of these issues? Well they can be varied. It may be too little training, or getting to a certain level and then not continuing that on. It may be allowing too much freedom during exercise.
The dog may have had a bad experience at some point that has made them wary and then the behaviour is compounded potentially by the owner. Alternatively, over social dogs have had the opposite experiences. They may have been to puppy classes where there has been plenty of off lead play, meaning that they see other dogs as the best thing ever. This behaviour is the made worse at the park, when they see dogs and rush after them and instigating interactions. They become anti social because they ‘just want to play’.
So why is this a problem? After all, aren’t we always being told ‘you must socialise your dog. Well that’s not completely correct but it’s also not wrong.
In my opinion, dogs are given too many playtime interactions with other dogs. This creates on going excitement and increases their drive to want to play. They get a buzz and they want that again and again. When they are puppies, we get a level of obedience from them and we think that’s it. We don’t maintain it and we let them have a little bit too much freedom.
We see a lot of dogs between 6 and 12 months of age where they no longer have recall……but they used too. This can be attributed to too much freedom, to lack of continuing the training, to not understanding the effects of improper socialisation.
Socialisation has certainly become something that is mentioned a lot. ‘You must socialise your dog’ ‘it’s important that they play with other dogs’
Mmm as I’ve already said, yes and no. Sadly, I am seeing a lot of dogs that go to doggie day care. Now I’m not against doggie day care in general and I have friends that run excellent day care and training companies however I am against dogs going there, being allowed unlimited time rushing around and playing with other dogs. They get to become highly arouse, sometimes not correctly supervised and issues can arise. As a superb trainer once said to me: ‘nervous dogs become more nervous and confident dogs become more confident’ and this can lead to aggression issues.
We also see a lot of dogs that have issues which owners believe they are addressing by sending them to day care or trying to sort it out by running or cycling with their dogs, hoping that tiring them out sorts the issues. Now I used to run with my dogs and it’s great. Keeps them and me fit but it isn’t a substitute for training, and it’s the training and behaviour modifications that will sort out undesirable issues. Plus there’s lots to be said for training and dog sports such as agility, scentwork or gundog training.
Training is mental stimulation. Mental stimulation really does create a tired dog and a differently tired dog from one that has just been physically tired out. Training also creates a great bond between you and your dog. You are giving them direction and reward rather than them self rewarding.
So the best thing if you’re having problems with your dog is early intervention. Don’t wait hoping that it will get sorted out. It rarely will sort its self out without help.
There are some great organisations out there that have great trainers and behaviourists in your area ready to help.
Below are two that I belong too.
© Cwnsaethu Dog Behaviour and Training