Stop Addressing the Symptoms

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283875_10150736758535078_812385077_20283782_1142512_n (1)Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • barking
  • jumping
  • digging
  • growling
  • biting
  • pawing

These behaviors occur because of a variety of reasons. Instead of digging deeper for the real reasons these behaviors are occurring, dog owners often only want to address the symptoms because those symptoms are what immediately affect the owner’s life.

Digging Deep

There are reasons why dogs act the way they do. It’s not caused by “dominance” or some other desire to “win.” They are just trying to live their lives like we are trying to live ours. They also strive to achieve happiness, comfort, safety, and companionship. When their safety is threatened they react in the only ways they know how – just like people.

I used to believe that dogs lived in a “pack” mentality. That they are pack animals and I needed to be alpha. Now, I know better and I do better. Just like a boss in a company, a leader who is respected should be calm, fair, set clear rules, and reinforce hard work. Employees are happier for it just as dogs are happier with that kind of leadership. Authoritarian leadership is no fun and does not create strong relationships.

DSC_0394Dogs have been living with humans for hundreds of years. They know how to read us and they know we are not dogs. There is no reason to pretend we have to be alpha dog in their eyes. There is no need to walk out of the door way first, eat first, or make sure the dog isn’t ahead of you during walks. Dogs aren’t trying to take over your life, they simply do what WORKS. Why not make your life easier and teach them to wait at doorways, sit before eating, and walk on a loose leash instead?

If you don’t like something they are doing, don’t let them do it. Stop the behavior from happening and teach them what you want them to do instead. Be sure to give them productive outlets for their energy: puzzle food toys, chew toys, sand boxes to dig in, and some training to teach them appropriate behaviors.

Remember, “bad” behavior is only bad in the eyes of the human. Dogs do what works. Make sure you’re paying attention and take the time to figure out why your dog isn’t acting appropriately. Don’t only address the symptoms.